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Finnish researchers identify coronavirus infection-preventing drugs

Screening from thousands of drugs, a team at the University of Tampere say they pinpointed two substances that prevented cells from being infected by coronavirus.

The study could lead to more research leading to the development of new effective medication, according to the researchers. Image: Hannibal Hanschke / AFP

Researchers at the University of Tampere have announced that they have identified two existing drugs that can prevent coronavirus infection.

The drugs are able to inhibit infection caused by the virus' original form as well as the Delta variant, the researchers said.

According to their findings — described here much more simply than the actual study — the combination of two compounds, 7-hydroxystaurosporine and bafetinib, were found to inhibit cells from being infected by coronavirus.

Furthermore, the researchers said that experimentation on human cells showed that the drug combination was still effective in preventing further infection, even one hour after the initial infection of the cells.

The report said the findings suggest "that they may hinder a post entry mechanism of the virus. Moreover, our results also confirmed the effectiveness of the combination of the drugs against the more [infectious] Delta variant."

The team's findings were published in Briefings in Bioinformatics (siirryt toiseen palveluun) earlier this month.

The study was led by Dario Greco, professor of bioinformatics at Tampere University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology. Also taking part in the collaborative effort were researchers from the University of Helsinki, University of Aarhus, University of Queensland as well Eötvös Loránd Research Network in Hungary.

Greco is also the director of the Finnish Hub for Development and Validation of Integrated Approaches (FHAIVE).

Findings could help create new drugs

The study could lead to more research leading to the development of new effective medication, according to the researchers.

Using data-driven, computational screening for suitable medications of Alberta University's database of around 8,000 drugs, some 700 were selected for further review. The screening sought out substances that might be effective against coronavirus, then the list was narrowed down from 23 anticancer and antiviral drugs until finding that the combination of the two remaining ones were effective.

"Although new vaccines have been developed as preventive options against the infection spreading, the ongoing vaccination campaign is still rolling significantly slowly in many areas of the planet," the study states.

The researchers said that while antibody-based therapies can be an appealing option to treat severe cases of Covid, "they are expensive and not easy to mass produce."

"Thus, more effective and affordable treatments for Covid-19 are still required to support medical intervention for the disease worldwide."