Amantadine and COVID-19. Researchers about its potential

Due to urgent the need for COVID-19 treatment and the lack of drugs with known efficacy, doctors and scientists have used a proven strategy since the start of the pandemic, trying to use existing, safety-validated and approved drugs for other diseases.

One of the candidates was amantadinein the last century used to treat influenza. Initially effective in relieving symptoms caused by type A virus, it has failed against influenza B virus. Over time, influenza viruses have become resistant to it and is now used primarily in patients with Parkinson’s disease (as a tremor-reducing drug). It is available as amantadine sulfate and hydrochloride.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were suggestions that the effects of amantadine can be used to prevent infection by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and alleviating the course of the disease.

In an article just published in the journal Communications Biology (belonging to the “Nature” group), scientists from Denmark, Germany and Greece showed that amantadine and hexamethylene amiloride (HMA) block the activity of the E protein ion channel from SARS-CoV-2 virus – viroporin found in the coronavirus envelope. However, the amantadine derivative rimantadine does not have such an effect.

Viroporins are small proteins encoded by viruses that create pores in the host cell’s membrane. This activity modifies several cellular functions, including membrane permeability, calcium ion balance, membrane remodeling, and glycoprotein transport. Protein E is a viroporin present in the envelope of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Amantadine and HMA bind to protein E as assessed by solution NMR simulation and molecular dynamics. By the way, the authors identified two new SARS-CoV-2 viroporins: ORF7b and ORF10, showing the activity of the ion channel in the expression system of the frog’s oocytes (Xenopus laevis). Amantadine also blocks the activity of the newly discovered ORF10 ion channel, which means it could potentially act for two purposes in COVID-19 patients.

“That’s why we propose amantadine as a new, cheap, readily available and effective treatment for COVID-19.” – the authors of the research write.

The article was sent to the magazine in December last year, but it has only been published now. Previous work has already informed about the ability of amantadine to block ion channels. As countless cases of potential drugs for cancer and other diseases have shown, the effects observed in laboratory conditions do not mean that the drug will work in a sick person, experts note.

In Poland, clinical trials on the use of amantadine in the treatment of COVID-19 began in April 2021 Two projects received nearly PLN 15 million in funding from the Medical Research Agency and are coordinated by centers in Lublin and Silesia. Scientists from the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice have undertaken to verify the effectiveness of amantadine treatment in patients with COVID-19.

500 patients were expected to participate in the clinical trial. In turn, the team from the Department of Neurology of the Independent Public Clinical Hospital No. 4 in Lublin was part of an international consortium conducting research on the effectiveness of amantadine and its derivatives in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections. This research is still ongoing.

Experts so far do not recommend taking amantadine for COVID-19.

About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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