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Malaria prophylactic tafenoquine shows antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 in cell cultures

Published on 14/07/20 at 12:09pm

Specialist tropical disease drug firm 60 Degrees Pharmaceuticals has revealed that its therapy Arakoda (tafenoquine) has been shown in cell cultures to produce antiviral effects against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The drug was originally approved in 2018 as a prophylactic for malaria infection.

Using the Simcyp Simulator from biosimulation firm Certara which collaborated with 60 Degrees on the study, it was discovered that, when tested in vitro in Vero E6 cells, Arakoda appeared to “interfere with infectious virus replication and reduce the yield of progeny virus,” according to researchers.

This activity was achieved at “pharmacologically relevant” concentrations – concentrations which it is believed could be achievable in lung tissue.  

“Based on this data, we believe that there is pharmacological plausibility and proof of hope that Arakoda may have potential to be effective in the treatment pathway for COVID-19,” remarked Geoffrey Dow, Chief Executive Officer at 60 Degrees.

However, the drug has not yet been trialled in COVID-19 patients, and the data is yet to be peer-reviewed. 60 Degrees confirmed that it now plans to push forward these findings into further preclinical and clinical studies, with Dow adding: “We are encouraged by these results and are excited to evaluate this further to help identify a safe and effective therapeutic to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Matt Fellows

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