Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have found that a new experimental drug, TEMPOL, is a promising oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19. TEMPOL can limit SARS-CoV-2 infection by weakening the activity of a viral enzyme called RNA replicase. This is reported in the article.
The researchers found that two iron-sulfur clusters (Fe-S clusters) are required for optimal functioning of RNA replicase (which catalyzes RNA replication). TEMPOL disrupts these clusters and, as demonstrated in experiments, effectively suppresses the reproduction of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Based on previous studies of TEMPOL in animals with other diseases, the study authors noted that the developed drug is able to accumulate in the tissues where the virus multiplies (salivary glands and lungs) in doses sufficient for the therapeutic effect.
However, the researchers emphasize that further clinical studies are needed to determine whether the drug is effective in patients in the early stages of the disease when the virus is just beginning to multiply.