Drugs specifically designed to prevent and treat Covid-19 are urgently needed. The good news is they are on their way.
The winning strategy for several other viral diseases proved to be drugs that inhibit virus replication in patients. Drugs that treat HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and herpes simplex type 1 and 2 are well-known examples. These drugs work by blocking the action of proteins the virus needs to reproduce itself.
The most common targets are the enzymes a virus needs to copy their genome, the polymerases, and those they need to cut larger proteins into smaller functional fragments, the proteases. The discovery of anti-HIV proteases, combined with an anti-polymerase, paved the way for long term survival in people infected by HIV-1. Similarly, it was the discovery of anti-protease drugs that enabled the curative treatment of hepatitis C infections.
Originally published on Forbes (June 29, 2020)