According to a study conducted by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, a medicine used to treat asthma can prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, from multiplying in human immune cells. Montelukast, a medication used to treat asthma, hay fever, and hives, has been reported to be effective against Covid-19.
The medication firmly binds to one end (‘C-terminal’) of a SARS-CoV-2 protein termed Nsp1, which was one of the first viral proteins released within human cells, according to researchers at the IISc. This protein can bind to ribosomes, the protein-making machinery inside our immune cells, and prevent the immune system from producing essential proteins, weakening it.”Montelukast sodium hydrate can be employed as a lead molecule to create powerful inhibitors to assist treat SARS-CoV-2 infection,” according to the study, which was published in the journal eLife.The mutation rate in this protein, particularly the C-terminal region, is very low compared to the rest of the viral protein, according to Tanweer Hussain, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics (MRDG), IISc, and senior author of the study. Since Nsp1 is likely to remain largely unchanged in any variants of the virus that emerge, drugs targeting this region should work against all such variants.
The researchers used computer modelling to look at over 1,600 drugs licenced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to find those that bind firmly to Nsp1. To determine the stability of the drug-bound protein molecule, they narrowed down a dozen drugs, including montelukast and saquinavir, an anti-HIV treatment. The researchers next treated human cells that produced Nsp1 in the lab with montelukast and saquinavir.