9 July 2020
Through the collaboration of researchers from Pécs and Austria, an active substance currently found in nasal sprays for allergies has been identified that can be used as a possible drug in the treatment of the coronavirus infection - Professor Ferenc Jakab, head of the virology research group at the University of Pécs Szentágothai Research Center, told MTI.
According to the expert, the virologists of the research center in Pécs found a possible active substance that could be a new therapeutic drug for the treatment of the coronavirus infection as a result of a joint study with Cebina, an Austrian biotechnology company. He emphasized that the active substance is not a vaccine to prevent the infection but a promising treatment for an existing infection.
He said the active substance called azelastine is currently used as a basic substance for a commonly used antihistamine nasal spray and has reduced virus infection very effectively under laboratory conditions.
As a first step in the study, researchers at Cebina used a computer-based approach to identify existing and easily available drugs that could later play a role in the treatment of the coronavirus infection. As a result, azelastine was detected as a possible active substance. This was followed by laboratory tests in Pécs, which confirmed the results of computer modelling and lived up to the expectations.
The professor pointed out that although the laboratory results are very promising, the experiments must be followed by wide-ranging clinical trials to prove the actual therapeutic applicability of the active substance. According to Ferenc Jakab, the result is also very important because the drug is licensed, widely available - in Hungary, for example, without a prescription - in the form of a nasal spray and has a direct effect at the initial site of the virus infection.
According to the researcher, if the soon-to-be-launched clinical trials prove the effectiveness of the drug, it will be able to be used almost immediately to treat the infection.