Scientists find wonder drug effective against both Covid-19 and cancer

A newly discovered drug that fights both covid-19 and cancer could prove to be a game-changer in medicine, researchers believe.

Researchers at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic Florida Research and Innovation Center found that an important protein GRP78, which is linked to both covid-19 and cancer, could be counteracted by a drug called HA15. The drug specifically binds to GRP78 and inhibits its activity

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

GRP78 is a chaperone protein that, together with other cell receptors, helps the entry of the SARS-COV-2 virus into the cells, as per DrugTargetRveview. GRP78 has also been implicated in the propagation of other viruses.

The researchers, who studied infected human lung cells, found more production of GRP78 in the infected cells as the infection progressed.

To determine the importance of GRP78 in the spread of Covid-19 infection, researchers suppressed the production of the protein in human lung epithelial cells in cell culture. When these cells were infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus, the study found that the infected cells produced less of the virus protein and released much less of the virus to infect other cells.

“We now have direct evidence that GRP78 is a viral protein that is essential for the virus to replicate,” said co-author Amy S. Lee, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, according to MedicalXpress.

Next, the research team tested the drug, HA15, on infected lung cells to assess the feasibility of targeting GRP78 to reduce the infection.

“Lo and behold, we found that this drug was very effective in reducing the number and size of SARS-CoV-2 plaques produced in infected cells, at safe doses that had no adverse effects on normal cells,” Lee said. .

After encouraging results, the researchers tested the drug’s efficacy in transgenic mice, which were programmed to express the human SARS-CoV-2 receptor. The mice were infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus. The result was a significantly reduced viral load in the lungs.

In another study, the research team at the Keck School of Medicine investigated the efficacy of HA15 in cancer in combination with another GRP78 inhibitor YUM70. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Michigan in the United States.

The study found that both HA15 and YUM70 suppressed the production of mutant KRAS proteins, a common mutation that is resistant to chemotherapy, and also reduced the number of such mutant cancer cells.

In this way, the drugs could be used to target GRP78, which in turn would help fight cancer.

The next step would be to test the drug’s safety and efficacy in humans through clinical trials.

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