Treatments against COVID-19

Treatments against COVID-19

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have been looking for drugs to prevent infection, but also to avoid progression to severe stages of COVID-19. Despite major efforts, there is still no specific treatment against COVID-19, which keeps the search for new drugs at the center of SARS-CoV-2 research.

IrsiCaixa is studying the effectivity of previously existing drugs to avoid infection, and is also working on the development of new treatments for COVID-19 patients. The treatments evaluated range from antiviral drugs that block the infection, to anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce the exaggerated inflammation of the patients with advanced stages of the disease, to different types of therapies that boost the immune system's response against the virus. These studies are carried out in the laboratory using artificial viruses containing the same proteins as SARS-CoV-2, but also with viruses obtained from COVID-19 patients, mini-organs designed in the laboratory or clinical trials, among others. Below are some of the projects in which IrsiCaixa research groups are involved.

Antiviral drugs

IrsiCaixa has assessed, in the laboratory, the ability of more than 70 drugs to block SARS-CoV-2. Of these, plitidepsin, commercialized under the name Aplidin, has proved to be one of the most effective, preventing the infection of cells with a low concentration of the drug. On the other hand, the research team has studied cetylperidinium chloride (CPC), a chemical component present in some mouthwashes, as a possible treatment to prevent human-to-human transmission of the virus. Laboratory results have shown that this component reduces the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 by about 1000 times.

Synthetic antibodies

Antibodies are immune system molecules that bind to pathogens, such as viruses, and block their entry into the cells, thus preventing infection. Normally, these antibodies are generated spontaneously in the organism when the presence of a possible infectious agent is detected. IrsiCaixa is working on the development of synthetic antibodies, developed in the laboratory, as a therapy against COVID-19. Administration of these antibodies could confer immediate immunity against the new coronavirus.

International clinical essays

Many drugs are being evaluated around the world with the aim of finding an effective treatment to fight COVID-19. IrsiCaixa, together with other international scientific institutions, is participating in different clinical trials to determine the efficacy of certain drugs in treating the disease. These drugs include monoclonal antibodies, antiviral drugs that prevent the replication of the virus, anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent the most advanced stages of COVID-19, and also combinations of several drugs.

Lab-designed mini organs to study potential therapies against COVID-19

IrsiCaixa, in collaboration with the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (IBE), is working on lung and brain organoids designed in the laboratory, which will allow the most realistic simulation possible of infection by SARS-CoV-2. The study aims to evaluate the efficacy of different drugs against SARS-CoV-2 in these organs and will use viruses obtained directly from patients, an alternative to the artificial viruses -modified to prevent their replication- widely used in the laboratory.

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Irsi Caixa

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