Research Press Release

Virology: Leprosy drug treats SARS-CoV-2 in a hamster model


March 16, 2021

The drug clofamizine, which is currently used to treat leprosy, is effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection in human cells and a hamster model, reports a Nature paper. Clofamizine can be taken orally and has a comparatively low manufacturing cost, which could make it a potentially attractive candidate for treatment of patients with COVID-19.

Sumit Chanda and colleagues studied the effectiveness of the drug clofamizine, which has been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration, against coronaviruses. The authors found that the drug was able to reduce the replication of two coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV) in human and monkey cell lines and human lung tissue. In an analysis of the antiviral action of the drug, they observed that it targets multiple steps in the replication of SARS-CoV-2, including interfering with the cell fusion process and the activity of the viral helicase enzyme.

In a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, administration of clofamizine prior to or after exposure to the virus significantly reduced the number of virus particles found in the lungs. When co-administered with remdesivir, the two drugs acted synergistically in reducing viral replication. A low dose of remdesivir combined with clofamizine significantly improved viral control in the hamster model.

The authors suggest that clofamizine could be an attractive candidate for outpatient treatment of SARS-CoV-2. Clinical evaluation is now required to establish its potential as a treatment option.

The paper is available at the following link:


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