Even as countries across the world are scrambling to find a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which has claimed more than a million lives, there might be some hope on the horizon. This “hope,” though, is not related to the development of a Covid-19 vaccine but, rather, with Hepatitis C disease.
A study conducted by the United States’ Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has found that several drugs used to treat Hepatitis C can be effective against an enzyme, which has the ability to help Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease or Covid-19, spread in human cells. The results of the study have been published in science journal Structures.
The study found that the enzyme, a protein enzyme called Protease, is used by Sars-Cov-2 to replicate itself once it has entered the human cell. In order to become a functional protein, Protease needs to cut a long chain of compounds that the virus expresses. It is the prevention of the functioning of the main Protease which can be used to stop the virus from spreading. It is here that the Hepatitis C drugs can be used.
The study was conducted as part of efforts to develop treatments for Covid-19 by repurposing existing drugs that are used for other viral diseases. As a part of this exercise, researchers looked at several drug molecules, including three Hepatitis C drugs, which are Protease inhibitors: telaprevir, narlaprevir and boceprevir. A technique called ‘in vitro enzyme kinetics’ was used to conduct the study.
No vaccine has been developed as yet to treat Covid-19 though several candidates are in different phases of trials across the globe. The disease has affected more than 56 million people and has claimed more than 1.3 million lives, a worldometers tally shows. As per the tally, nearly 40 million people, too, have recovered from the infection thus far.
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