Int J Infect Dis: Existing drugs may be effective in treating new coronaviruses!

The number of people infected with the new coronavirus continues to soar, and by the end of February, more than 80,000 people had been infected worldwide. But there is no vaccine or cure, which means doctors have no choice but to provide supportive treatment for patients with severe illness and hope that their bodies can survive the infection. Since there is no vaccine or cure for neocoronavirus, doctors can only provide supportive treatment for patients with severe illness, and approved drugs may be the key to treatment. A research team from Europe created a database of 120 broad-spectrum antiviral drugs, summarizing the current state of development of these drugs and detailed information on the viruses that can be suppressed. The article was published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“New use of old medicines is a strategy to generate additional value from existing medicines, which targets diseases other than those originally planned to treat.” One of the authors, Denis Kainov, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said. “For example, teicoplanin, oritavancin, dalbavancin, and monensin are all approved antibiotics that have been shown to inhibit coronaviruses and other viruses in the laboratory.” There is no cure for novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19), and these and other safe broad-spectrum antivirals are good candidates for COVID-19.

“The advantage of drug reuse is that all the details of drug development are clear, from the chemical synthesis steps, the manufacturing process to the clinical trials. As a result, retargeting marketed or failed drugs for viral diseases is much more likely to be marketed successfully than developing new virus-specific drugs and vaccines, and significantly reduces costs and clinical availability.” The researchers point out.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 can cause mild symptoms including runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever, and some people may be more severe with pneumonia and dyspnea, and even death. Older people and people with a history of diabetes and heart disease are more susceptible. The researchers wrote: “Thus, repositioning drugs that have been launched or failed for viral diseases provides a unique opportunity for translation. Compared to the development of new virus-specific drugs and vaccines, the likelihood of successful market introduction is much higher, and significantly reduce costs and clinical time. ”

In this article, researchers review information about the discovery and development of a broad-spectrum antiviral drug (BSAA). BSAA is a drug that targets viruses from two or more different families. Combining drug annotations from PubChem, DrugBank, DrugCentral, PubMed, and with virus family information from the Viral Pathogen Database and Analysis Resources, they created a freely accessible database ( /). They summarized the current state of development of 120 BSAAs that have been proven safe for humans. The database allows interactive browsing of the virus-BSAA and will be updated as required. It is worth noting that 31 of these may be candidate drugs for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, and 5 candidate drugs have recently begun clinical research.

BSAA can provide additional protection for the general population from new and recurring toxic diseases, thereby increasing the stock of available antiviral drugs. Future and ongoing research will increase the number of BSAAs, broaden their indications, and identify drug combinations for the treatment of new and recurrent viral infections and co-infection. The researchers concluded: “In the future, BSAAs will have a global impact by reducing the incidence and mortality of viruses and other diseases, maximizing healthy lifespan, improving the quality of life of infected patients, and reducing the cost of patient care.”


1. Petter I. Andersen et al, Discovery and development of safe-in-man broad-spectrum antiviral agents, International Journal of Infectious Diseases (2020).  DOI: 1016/j.ijid.2020.02.018