A research team led by Prof. Stephan Ludwig, a virologist at the Institute of Virology at the University of Munster, has found a new dual attack mode of action while working on the development of a drug candidate against SARS-CoV-2 infections. This could constitute the basis for a broadly effective drug to fight COVID-19. The data, which have now been published in the journal Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, provided the basis for the approval issued by the German Institute of Drugs and Medicinal Products for a clinical study currently being worked on.
The drug can not only inhibit the proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in cells, but also reduce the exaggerated immune response which represents a serious problem in severe cases of COVID. “In the results we have published, we have been able for the first time to show such a dual action for an anti-COVID-19 agent,” explains Stephan Ludwig, who has overall responsibility for the research work. This team collaborates with scientists at the Universities of Wurzburg, Tubingen, Gottingen’s German Primate Centre, and the start-up ‘Atriva Therapy’, which was established by scientists from the Universities of Munster and Tubingen.
The active agent in question, called Zapnometinib or ATR-002, which was originally under development as anti-flu medication, was effective in a variety of cell culture models–including activity against all tested variants of SARS-CoV-2, which also implies a broad applicability in facing up to any coming variants in the future. These findings have been confirmed by animal testing. “Positive results from the still ongoing clinical study in humans might already lead to an emergency approval this year for a new, broadly effective COVID-19 medication. Stephan Ludwig says that the benefit is obvious.