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Leprosy drug 'clofazimine' may help with at-home Covid treatment

Covid-19 update: Researchers have recently found that leprosy drug may help in the fight against the coronavirus. Here's what you need to know.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : March 17, 2021 11:04 AM IST

Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is a debilitating disease that has affected millions of people across the globe. While vaccines are available to fight Covid infection are available, medical professionals are working tirelessly to come up with potential treatments that will help further help in the battle against the microscopic villain. So, the antiviral drug remedesivir, arthritis drug tocilizumab, anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine has been included in the treatment for Covid-19 patients. But there might be another drug available that could help treat coronavirus patients with moderate to severe infection.

A recent study has found that a drug used to treat leprosy may help combat Covid-19. Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes serious, damaging skin sores and nerve damage in the limbs. For the study, the team tested clofazimine in hamsters that were infected with the coronavirus.

Leprosy Drug Can Aid People With Severe Covid-19

The study published in the journal Nature showed that leprosy drug clofazimine exhibits potent antiviral activities against SARS-Cov-2 that helps prevent inflammation associated with severe Covid. Researcher Sumit Chanda from the Sanford Burnham Prebys in the US said, "Clofazimine is an ideal candidate for Covid-19 treatment. It is safe, affordable, easy to make, taken as a pill and can be made globally available."

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"We hope to test clofazimine in Phase 2 clinical trial as soon as possible for people who test positive for Covid-19 but are not hospitalized. Since there is currently no outpatient treatment available for these individuals, clofazimine may help reduce the impact of the disease, which is particularly important now as we see new variants of the virus emerge and against which the current vaccines appear less efficacious," he added.

The team found that clofazimine reduced the amount of virus in the system, including those animals who were given the drug before they were infected. It was also found that the medicine lowered lung damage and prevented "cytokine storm" an inflammatory response to SARS-CoV-2 that can be lethal.

It Also Works With The Current Treatment Available

As per the study results, the drug Clofazimine also works synergistically well with remdesivir, which is the current standard-of-care treatment for people who are hospitalized due to Covid-19. These findings suggest that the production of remdesivir, which costly and in limited supply, should be increased.

(with inputs from IANS)

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