Coronavirus treatment ‘possible’ as study finds Ebola drug could also cure virus

This week, coronavirus cases in the UK hit 18, leading to widespread panic about the spread of the virus.

Now, scientists from the University of Alberta have taken a huge step towards developing a treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The researchers have discovered that remdesivir – a drug used to treat Ebola – may also be effective for treating patients infected with coronavirus.

Professor Matthias Gotte, a virologist working on the study, said: “We know the drug works against different coronaviruses, like MERS and SARS, and we know the novel coronavirus is very similar to SARS.

“So I would say I’m cautiously optimistic that the results our team found with remdesivir and MERS will be similar with COVID-19.”

Remedsivir was developed in 2014 as a response to the 2014 West African Ebola virus epidemic.


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And the drug was first used on a patient with the new coronavirus earlier this year in the US.

The patient was given the drug on the seventh day of illness, and showed marked improvement the following day, with symptoms eventually disappearing altogether.

Professor Gotte explained: “What our study showed was that remdesivir essentially mimics one of the natural building blocks for RNA synthesis necessary for genome replication of the virus.

“Enzymes within the virus are synthesising the viral RNA genome with these building blocks, but they mix up the bits they need with the drug. Once the drug is incorporated into the growing RNA chain, the virus can no longer replicate.”

The researchers are now waiting for results form ongoing clinical trials, which are expected by the end of April.

However, they caution that that won’t be the end of the story.

Professor Gotte added: “It’s likely we’ll need more than one drug to properly fight emerging diseases like COVID-19, as we have with HIV and hepatitis C virus infections.

“Ideally, we will have a couple of drugs because certain strains could be resistant to certain treatments.”

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