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Medications used to treat type-2 diabetes could be effective in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus in people with diabetes, a new study revealed.
People with diabetes and other conditions such as hypertension are at a higher risk of infection and a much higher probability of complications from the virus, scientists found.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, from researchers at the University of Waterloo, examined the three-dimensional structure of the COVID-19 protein and found that a specific class of diabetes medications could bind to the virus and stop it from replicating — specifically, a “class of medications called dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors or DPP4 inhibitors,” researchers said.
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In this May 17, 2020, photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker collects sample for COVID-19 testing at the Tongji community in Shulan in northeastern China’s Jilin Province. (Zhang Nan/Xinhua via AP)
The researchers’ work shows that the medication could be effective in curing COVID-19 in diabetes patients.
“Previous research has shown us the molecular structure of a COVID-19 protein, which is responsible for viral growth in the host cells” said Praveen Nekkar, a professor at Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy and lead researcher on the study, in a press statement.
“My group decided to study this further by investigating the structure of the COVID-19 protein by using computational software to understand if existing drugs can bind to it and prevent replication of the virus in host cells,” Nekkar said.
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Nekkar and his team are among many scientists looking into possibly repurposing existing drugs to attack COVID-19.
“Discovering and developing a new medication can take 10 to 15 years and cost upwards of a billion dollars,” Nekkar said. “COVID-19 is wreaking havoc right now and we need good pharmacotherapy treatment options as soon as possible – that’s why we started investigating drug repurposing.
“Our next steps are conducting further investigation in our lab and with collaborators. We want to test the DPP4 inhibitors in cell cultures infected with the COVID-19 virus and assess their efficacy. From there we will scale up to trials, and, eventually a treatment for the market,” he added.
Worldwide, infections from the new coronavirus stood at 4,952,882 and deaths stood at 325,712 as of Wednesday afternoon.