A medicine used to treat asthma and allergies can attach to and block a crucial protein produced by the virus SARS-CoV-2, according to a recent study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science. This reduces viral replication in human immune cells (IISc).
The drug, montelukast, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for more than 20 years and is typically recommended to relieve inflammation caused by illnesses such as asthma, hay fever, and hives; an official announcement from the IISC on April 25.
The researchers reveal that the medication binds tightly to one end (‘C-terminal’) of a SARS-CoV-2 protein termed Nsp1, one of the first viral proteins released within human cells, in a paper published in eLife. This protein can bind to ribosomes (protein-making machinery) inside immune cells, halting the production of essential proteins required by the immune system and weakening it. As a result, targeting Nsp1 may help to decrease the virus’s damage.