New drug combo ‘effectively suppresses’ COVID infections

TRONDHEIM, Norway — Researchers from the Norwegian University of Technology and Science say a new drug combination is showing serious promise against COVID-19 in preliminary animal and cell culture tests. The mixture, a combination of nafamostat and Pegasys (IFNα), also adheres to all availability and efficacy requirements.

More specifically, this new drug concoction appears capable of stopping SARS-CoV-2 infections before they’re able to take root.

“This combination effectively suppresses the infection,” says Professor Denis Kainov at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine (IKOM), in a media release.

So far, scientists have only tested the drug combo on hamsters and cell cultures. These preliminary results are by no means a confirmation that the mixture will prove effective in humans. Still, researchers say the work thus far is a “good sign.”

A hepatitis drug for COVID?

One half of the combo, Nafamostat, is already in use as a monotherapy against COVID-19 and is currently undergoing an extensive round of testing in Japan and other countries. Meanwhile, Pegasys (IFNα) is primarily a treatment for hepatitis C.

“Both drugs attack a factor in our cells called TMPRSS2, which plays a critical role in viral replication,” explains Magnar Bjørås, a professor in the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine.

Even better, low doses of the drug combination are all it takes to produce the intended protective effect.

“The low doses of the drugs in combination may have several clinical advantages including fewer adverse events and improved outcomes for patients,” notes Aleksandr Ianevski, a doctoral research fellow affiliated with the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine.

In summation, study authors are optimistic that this new drug combination may soon save lives and improve overall life quality for COVID-19 patients. As far as cost goes, Nafamostat is relatively inexpensive, while Pegasys (IFNα) is a bit pricier.

The study is published in the journal Viruses. 

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John Anderer

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