According to a recent study from the University of Georgia (UGA) published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, probenecid has potent antiviral properties that make the oral medication a prime candidate to combat not only SARS-CoV-2 infection but other common and deadly respiratory viruses.
The school noted that probenecid is primarily used to treat gout and has been on the market for more than 40 years, with minimal side effects to patients.
“There’s really nothing out there to safely fight these viruses,” Ralph Tripp, lead author of the study and GRA Eminent Scholar of Vaccine and Therapeutic Studies in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “This antiviral works for all RNA respiratory viruses we tested, including SARS-CoV-2. RSV, coronavirus and flu all circulate in the same season. Bottom line is you can potentially reduce infection and disease using this one oral drug.”
To be effective, probenecid blocks viral replication, preventing it from infecting an individual’s cells.
In testing, UGA said, the medication works both as a prophylactic prior to virus exposure and as a post-exposure treatment, noting the drug has also proven effective in fighting RSV in vitro.
TrippBio used animal models – hamsters – against SARS-Cov-2 and the flu.
“Although the drug would primarily be used after a person is positive for the virus, the prophylactic findings mean people with known exposures could also potentially take the drug to prevent getting sick,” the university said.
To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 676,000 Americans, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University.
In addition, 42,292,350 confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S. thus far.
Treatment for those severely ill due to COVID-19 is still limited.
UGA notes that the current go-to treatments include remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies. Only remdesivir has received federal approval for the treatment of COVID-19.
“These treatments have seen some effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, but they’re very expensive and very hard to come by,” Tripp said. “In reality, there are only a handful of options that can actually be used because of the cost, restricted IV usage, and lack of access. That’s not very useful to the world.”
UGA compared repurposing remdesivir to fight COVID-19 with potentially repurposing probenecid with a prescribed pill and suggested that probenecid could possibly also increase the effectiveness of other treatments.
Researchers are investigating what dosage of probenecid could be most impactful in combattng viruses and TrippBio is reportedly set to begin clinical trials of the drug by the end of the year.
Side effects of probenecid include nausea, dizziness, vomiting and headaches, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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