In an effort to treat people who have the coronavirus, another drug on the market is getting recognition for its possible benefits fighting COVID-19. According to ABC News, ivermectin, a head lice drug, may be a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
Although some researchers don’t want to call it a breakthrough, it seems promising in the fight against the deadly virus. Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug and is sometimes used to treat head lice. Research into the drug’s viability in treating COVID-19 is still in its early stages but with the emergence of two studies showing promising results, experts are hopeful that there is a chance that it could help.
“Finding a safe, affordable, readily available therapy like ivermectin if it proves effective with rigorous evaluation has the potential to save countless lives,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, an infectious disease expert with the NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Although ivermectin is known for its topical use in treating head lice, the drug dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, first as a veterinary treatment for nematodes in cattle and later as a way to combat river blindness in humans.
“We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” said Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, the leader of the team from Melbourne’s Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
The coronavirus is not a parasite, but the experts are suggesting that the drug basically treats it like one as it blocks the viral RNA from invading healthy cells. If the virus is unable to enter the cell, the RNA is slowed from replicating, giving the patient’s immune system more time to fight it off.
“There are numerous examples of drugs with in vitro activity not proving effective in human studies,” said Shah. “That being said, given there are no proven therapies against COVID-19 to date and we are in the midst of a pandemic, drugs that show promise in early in vitro or observational studies such as ivermectin should be rigorously evaluated to understand safety and effectiveness.”