Researchers use live virus to identify 30 existing drugs that could treat COVID-19


Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., a professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys, gestures to experimental assays that test for compounds that may treat COVID-19.

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, the University of Hong Kong, Scripps Research, UC San Diego School of Medicine, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and UCLA have identified 30 existing drugs that stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Almost all of the drugs are entirely different from those currently being tested in clinical trials, and weren’t previously known to hold promise for COVID-19 treatment. The new candidates expand the number of “shots on goal” for a potential COVID-19 treatment and could reach patients faster than drugs that are created from scratch. The study was placed on bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-Archive”), an open-access distribution service for preprints of life science research.

“We believe this is one of the first comprehensive drug screens using the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, and our hope is that one or more of these drugs will save lives while we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19,” says Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., director of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys and senior author of the study. “Many drugs identified in this study—most of which are new to the COVID-19 research community—can begin clinical trials immediately or in a few months after additional testing.”

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