Clofazimine Inhibits Coronaviruses Including SARS-CoV-2: Stu
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Researchers found that Clofazimine, a lipophilic antimicrobial riminophenazine dye used in combination with agents like rifampicin and dapsone to treat leprosy, inhibits coronaviruses. It highlights the potential of drug repurposing, wherein drugs approved for treating other diseases are used to treat current outbreaks.

The study demonstrated that the leprosy drug clofazimine, exhibited potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. The drug also prevented the exaggerated inflammatory response tied to the severe COVID-19. The results were based on the findings of a Phase II study that evaluated Clofazimine as an at-home treatment for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

To arrive at the study findings, the researchers tested Clofazimine in Syrian hamsters infected with SARS-CoV-2. They found that the drug suppressed the viral load in the lungs, reducing lung damage and preventing a potentially-fatal complication, a cytokine storm. Cytokine storm is characterized by an overwhelming inflammatory reaction of the body against SARS-CoV-2.

Apart from the amount of the virus in the lungs, the drug also reduced viral shedding, a potentially contagious condition when the virus replicates in the body and is released into the environment. Clofazimine works by blocking viral entry into cells and altering ribonucleic acid (RNA) replication.

The drug appears to have a pan-coronavirus activity, which means it could be used not only for SARS-CoV-2 but also for other coronaviruses that may threaten global public health. Currently, the Phase 2 trial of Clofazimine with interferon beta-1b for treating people with COVID-19 is ongoing at the University of Hong Kong.

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