Anti-tapeworm drug shows promise against COVID-related excessive inflammatory response
The difference between a mild bout of COVID-19 and a severe, potentially fatal form of the disease is largely down to the patient’s own immune response to the virus – excessive inflammation being linked with hospitalisations and death. This has prompted researchers to find drugs that can quell such rampant responses. And, in a screen of more than 2,500 drugs approved for use in humans, researchers found that among the most promising was one called niclosamide. When the drug was applied to SARS-CoV-2-infected human macrophages (shown), it dramatically inhibited the cells’ inflammasomes (green) – complexes that produce and pump out inflammatory factors. As a bonus, the drug also dialled down replication of the virus. Niclosamide is currently used as an oral treatment for tapeworm and would need reformulating to work in the lungs. The fact that it potentially offers a double punch against COVID, though, suggests such reformulation would certainly be worthwhile.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.