A HKU study has discovered that an existing drug commonly used for stomach ulcers could be effective for treating the COVID-19, offering a new and readily available therapeutic option.
The findings were published in Nature Microbiology on 7 October.
Researchers identified that ulcer drug ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC), which contains the metal Bismuth, can reduce viral loads by 1,000 folds in cells infected by the Covid-19 virus. In a golden Syrian hamster model, RBC suppressed the virus replication, reducing viral loads in upper and lower respiratory tracts while mitigating virus-associated pneumonia.
Researchers say the drug could achieve similar outcomes as the coronavirus drug remdesivir, at less than a quarter of that of Remdesivir.
“It can be used in the form of drug cocktails that target multiple areas so it is harder for the virus to build resistance,” Professor Hongzhe Sun from HKU’s department of chemistry, said at a press conference on Monday.
Key members of the research team are from HKU’s department of chemistry and department of microbiology led by Professor Sun and Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen.
The team applied for a patent for using the drug for Covid-19 treatment in the United States.