U.S. researchers are looking at two generic prescription drugs to determine whether they could be effective in treating or preventing coronavirus.
Reuters reported that scientists at the University of Minnesota are testing two drugs, the malaria treatment drug hydroxychloroquine and the blood pressure drug losartan, to see whether either drug is effective in blocking the virus’s reproductive processes.
“We are trying to leverage the science to see if we can do something in addition to minimizing contacts,” Dr. Jakub Tolar, dean of the University of Minnesota’s medical school, told Reuters. “Results are likely in weeks, not months.”
The drugs, Tolar added, were relatively inexpensive to purchase as they are generic replacements for branded prescription drugs.
“We don’t need a multibillion-dollar investment. It is part of the beauty of this approach,” Tolar said.
Researchers say Losartan, an enzyme receptor, could prevent the virus from binding to host cells in the victim’s body, possibly preventing further or future infections. Hydroxychloroquine, used to treat malaria in many countries, could possibly suppress the proteins that cause deadly inflammation in victims, according to Reuters.
A 1,500-patient trial began this week testing the use of hydroxychloroquine, according to the news service, while two trials testing the use of losartin are reportedly ongoing.
The global coronavirus outbreak, believed to have originated in China, has so far sickened more than 200,000 people and killed thousands.