There is no effective anti-viral treatment for people who have come down with COVID-19.
Researchers and clinicians all over the world are faced with having to treat the disease with novel approaches and on-the-fly treatments. Often those new ideas are based on existing knowledge and drugs.
A research team at the University of Alberta is set to launch a human clinical trial of a drug currently used in treating a disease in cats caused by a type of coronavirus similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.
Joanne Lemieux and her team thought there were enough similarities in the way the coronavirus behaved in people and cats, that the same protease inhibitor drug used to cure feline infectious peritonitis might be effective in people. As the drug has already been through animal studies to be licensed for use in cats, at least part of the necessary work needed to move forward has already been completed.
With funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Alberta Innovates, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology and the GSK Chair in Virology the researchers have built up enough promising evidence to move on to human clinical trials.
Joanne Lemieux is a biochemist at the University of Alberta, and she talked with freelance broadcaster Don Hill.
Cat anti-viral holds promise for COVID-19: University of Alberta researchers