Coronavirus: Approved drug could allow COVID-19 treatment

Coronavirus: Approved drug could allow COVID-19 treatment

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Coronavirus: Existing drug could be a treatment option

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread. All federal states in Germany are now affected. A specific therapy against the pathogen is not yet available. But researchers are now reporting that an existing drug could be a treatment option.

The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues. In Germany, more than 1,200 infections have now been confirmed (as of March 10, 2020). There is currently no specific therapy for the virus. But researchers from Göttingen have now identified a potential drug.

Approved drugs could be used against coronavirus

A few days ago, an investigation by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found that existing and approved drugs could enable treatment of the coronavirus.

The results of the study were published in the "International Journal of Infectious Diseases".

Now researchers from the German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research (DPZ) in Göttingen are reporting on an existing drug that could protect against COVID-19.

How the new corona virus penetrates cells

As the DPZ explains in a statement, viruses have to penetrate body cells in order to trigger an illness. For this purpose, they attach themselves to suitable cells and infiltrate their genetic information into these cells.

Infection researchers from the German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen, together with colleagues at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, examined how the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 penetrates cells.

The researchers have identified a cellular enzyme that is essential for the entry of the virus into lung cells: the protease TMPRSS2. Therefore, an existing drug that inhibits this protease could be a promising treatment option.

Their results were published in the specialist journal "Cell".

There are currently no vaccines or medicines available

As the experts explain in the communication, various coronaviruses circulate around the world, which constantly infect humans and usually only cause mild respiratory diseases.

But we are currently experiencing a worldwide spread of a new corona virus with more than 110,000 confirmed cases of illness and almost 4,000 deaths (as of March 10, 2020).

It is SARS coronavirus-2, which has been transmitted from animals to humans, according to the DPZ, and can cause a serious respiratory disease called COVID-19.

The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been spreading since December 2019 and is closely related to the SARS coronavirus that triggered the SARS pandemic in 2002/2003. To date, neither vaccines nor medicines are available to combat both viruses.

"Starting point for fighting the virus found"

A broad-based research team wanted to find out how the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus enters host cells and how this process can be blocked.

The team was led by the infection biologists at the German Primate Center. Researchers from the Charité, the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, the BG Accident Clinic Murnau, the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the German Center for Infection Research were also involved.

The researchers identified a cellular protein that is important for the penetration of SARS-CoV-2 into cells.

"Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 requires the protease TMPRSS2 present in the human body to penetrate the host cell," explains Stefan Pöhlmann, head of the infection biology department at the German Primate Center. "We have found a starting point for fighting the virus."

Promising drug

Since it is known that the drug Camostat Mesilate inhibits the protease TMPRSS2, the researchers investigated whether it can also prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2.

"We tested SARS-CoV-2 from a patient and found that Camostat Mesilate blocks the virus from entering lung cells," explains Markus Hoffmann, the study's lead author.

Camostat Mesilate is said to be a drug approved in Japan that is used for inflammation of the pancreas.

"Our results suggest that Camostat could also protect Mesilate from COVID-19," says Hoffmann. "This should be investigated in clinical studies." (Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research: Preventing the multiplication of SARS Coronavirus-2 in humans, (accessed: March 10, 2020), German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research
  • Hoffmann, M et al .: SARS-CoV-2 cell entry depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and is blocked by a 2 clinically-proven protease inhibitor; in: Cell, (access: March 10, 2020), Cell
  • Petter I. Andersen, Aleksandr Ianevski, Hilde Lysvand, AstraVitkauskiene, Valentyn Oksenych et al .: Discovery and development of safe-in-man broad-spectrum antiviral agents; in: International Journal of Infectious Diseases, (published: 02/11/2020), International Journal of Infectious Diseases

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