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Due to the current outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of mutated strains causing illness and death all over the world, researchers around the world are striving to develop effective treatments. Despite the release of Vaccine there is still a haphazard public. Thus, repurposing of the existing drugs will be a novel approach in treating COVID-19 patients.
A computational drug screening strategy combined with lab experiments could help us identify such drugs by simulating how different drugs would interact with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Haiping Zhang from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Shenzhen, China and his colleagues proposed a hybrid drug screening procedure which was applied to identify potential drug candidates targeting RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from 1906 approved drugs. Among four promising drugs, Pralatrexate and Azithromycin were confirmed to be effective in inhibiting replication of the virus. For the first time, their study discovered that Pralatrexate is able to potently inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication with a stronger inhibitory activity than Remdesivir within the same experimental conditions. However, this chemotherapy drug can prompt significant side effects and is used for people with terminal lymphoma, so immediate use for Covid-19 patients is not guaranteed. Further the findings support the use of the new screening strategy to identify drugs that could be repurposed.
Zhang says ‘We have demonstrated the value of our novel hybrid approach that combines deep-learning technologies with more traditional simulations of molecular dynamics’. The team is now working to develop additional computational methods for generating novel molecular structures that could pave a way into new drugs effective against COVID-19.
Nikhil Sai Yadav
Chief Operating Officer
Treillis Life Sciences Pvt Ltd