Scientists across the globe are in a race against time to devise a drug which can put a halt to the deadly coronavirus infections. And today, we can all count our lucky stars because the Hebrew University, Jerusalem has given us a new hope to cling to. The university has found a potential drug which can downgrade the danger-level of the coronavirus. The drug is called ‘fenofibrate’ which is a blood cholesterol lowering agent. The Hebrew University claims that this drug can denote the danger-level of the coronavirus to that of the common cold.
According to scientists, coronavirus is dangerous because it leads to deposition of lipids (fats, oils, waxes, etc.) in the lungs. Fenofibrate being a cholesterol lowering agent, can dissolve these lipids and hence, downgrade the danger-level of the coronavirus. Professor Yaakov Nahmias, director of Hebrew University Grass Center for Bioengineering, says, “If our findings are borne out by clinical studies, this course of treatment could potentially downgrade the severity of COVID-19 into nothing worse than a common cold.”
Professor Yaakov Nahmias carried out the research along with Benjamin tenOever at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. The two researchers studied the way the coronavirus changes the lungs of a patient in order to reproduce. It prevents burning of carbohydrates resulting in accumulation of fats inside the cells of the lungs. This is a condition required by the coronavirus to reproduce. Professor Nahmias says, “This new understanding of Sars-CoV-2 may help explain why patients with high blood sugar and cholesterol levels are often at a particularly high risk to develop COVID-19″.
He further added to his statement, “Viruses are parasites that lack the ability to replicate on their own, so they take control of our cells to help accomplish the task. By understanding how Sars-CoV-2 controls our metabolism, we can wrestle back control from the virus and deprive it from the very resources it needs to survive.” Fenofibrate (sold under the brand name of Tricor) facilitates fat breakdown in the lungs resulting in an unsuitable replication environment for the coronavirus. Researchers claim that within five days of treatment, the coronavirus completely disappeared from the lung cells.
Dr. Nahmias says, “With second-wave infections spiking in the countries across the globe, these findings could not have come at a better time.” tenOever further added to Dr. Nahmias’ statement, “The collaboration between the Nahmias and the tenOever labs demonstrates the power of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to study Sars-CoV-2 and that our findings could truly make a significant difference in reducing the global burden of COVID-19.” Scientists suggest that the key to stop the spread of the coronavirus infection is to block the virus’ ability to replicate. However, only further research will tell how significant these current findings are.