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Gout medicine found to be effective against COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that a gout medicine already approved by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1979 could also help combat COVID-19.

Probenicid, generally used to treat the joint tenderness and pain caused by gout, may prove effective against SARS-CoV-2 by preventing the virus from taking over a person’s cells and using them to replicate. Thus, prebencid may successfully stop the virus from spreading throughout the body and causing severe illness.

Scientists believe that gout medicine can also work in the fight against other respiratory illnesses, including the common flu, which doesn’t have a clear therapeutic path either. “There’s really nothing out there to safely fight these viruses,” said lead author Dr. Ralph Tripp, a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia.

“This antiviral works for all RNA respiratory viruses we tested, including SARS-CoV-2. RSV, coronavirus and flu all circulate in the same season. Bottom line is you can potentially reduce infection and disease using this one oral drug.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many drugs have been used in the hope that they will manage to cure the disease, including monoclonal antibodies. However, these drugs are expensive, not very widely available, and they are mostly used when patients already reach a critical condition and they are hospitalized.

“These treatments have seen some effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, but they’re very expensive and very hard to come by,” explained Professor Tripp. “In reality, there are only a handful of options that can actually be used because of the cost, restricted IV usage, and lack of access. That’s not very useful to the world.”

On the other hand, Probencid can be cheaply produced and distributed around the world, which creates an opportunity for low income nations to easily access these potentially helpful treatments.  

“SARS-CoV-2, RSV and flu have a huge impact on health systems throughout the world. Probenecid has a potent antiviral effect against these viruses, and it works safely,” concluded Professor Tripp.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.


By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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