Scientists with test tubes
07 April 2020
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A collaborative study led by the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, has shown that an anti-parasitic drug already available around the world kills the virus within 48 hours.

The study, published in Antiviral Research, showed that the drug, Ivermectin, stopped the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture within 48 hours.

Ivermectin is an FDA-approved anti-parasitic drug that has also been shown to be effective in vitro against a broad range of viruses including HIV, Dengue, Influenza and Zika virus.

Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Dr Leon Caly, a Senior Medical Scientist at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) at the Doherty Institute where the experiments with live coronavirus were conducted, is the study’s first author.

“As the virologist who was part of the team who were first to isolate and share SARS-COV2 outside of China in January 2020, I am excited about the prospect of Ivermectin being used as a potential drug against COVID-19,” Dr Caly said.

The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s Dr Kylie Wagstaff, who led the study, cautioned that the tests conducted in the study were in vitro and that trials needed to be carried out in people.

“Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out now whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective – that’s the next step,” Dr Wagstaff said.

“In times when we’re having a global pandemic and there isn’t an approved treatment, if we had a compound that was already available around the world then that might help people sooner. Realistically it’s going to be a while before a vaccine is broadly available.

The use of Ivermectin to combat COVID-19 would depend on the results of further pre-clinical testing and ultimately clinical trials, with funding urgently required to keep progressing the work," Dr Wagstaff said.

Read the full paper in Antiviral Research titled: The FDA-approved Drug Ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.

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