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The FDA-approved Drug Ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro

Ivermectin is an inhibitor of the COVID-19 causative virus (SARS-CoV-2) in vitro.

A single treatment able to effect ∼5000-fold reduction in virus at 48h in cell culture.

Ivermectin is FDA-approved for parasitic infections, and therefore has a potential for repurposing.

Ivermectin is widely available, due to its inclusion on the WHO model list of essential medicines.

A widely available anti-parasite drug is getting a fresh look after a study published Friday shows it may be useful against COVID-19.

Usually prescribed for pinworm and nematode infections, and sometimes head lice, ivermectin (Stromectol) was shown to reduce viral colonies of COVID-19 by 5,000 times within 48 hours of a single treatment in a cell culture infected in a laboratory. This test was not performed on humans.

The medicine works on parasites by binding to their muscle and nerve cells, causing paralysis and death, said MedicineNet medical author Omudhome Ogbru, Pharm.D.

In the study published in Antiviral Research, authors say ivermectin has been shown to limit infection of other RNA viruses, including West Nile virus and influenza.

The parasites that ivermectin targets include multicellular roundworms, classified within the animal kingdom as nematodes. Viruses, on the other hand, are mostly bits of RNA or DNA wrapped in proteins. They are not animals and don’t even have single cells of their own, let alone muscle and nerve cells to target.

But researchers believe ivermectin may also attack a specific protein common to many RNA viruses, which is why it seems to limit the flu and West Nile.

The authors also note that although ivermectin was shown to be safe in a single daily dose in a recent Thai study, it did not show clinical benefit for dengue fever. Dengue is caused by another RNA virus.

If the drug does prove effective for humans fighting COVID-19 infections, the study points to several potential benefits of this drug. For one, it is widely available because the WHO already lists it as an “essential medicine. The FDA approved it for human use in 1996.

For another, the drug has been established to be safe for human use, although it has not been established safe for pregnant women.

The authors conclude from the results of their study that “ivermectin is worthy of further consideration as a possible SARS-CoV-2 antiviral.”

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