British scientists seek to reuse existing antiviral drugs for COVID By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed model of the coronavirus is seen in front of the words coronavirus disease (Covid-19) displayed in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) – British researchers want to reuse existing antiviral therapies to treat COVID-19, the University of Oxford said on Friday, in a bid to avoid lengthy development processes with readily available drugs.

Scientists will initially screen 138 drugs with known antiviral activity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID to study and identify potent combinations, the university said in a statement https://www.ox.ac.uk/ news/2022-02-04-the-research-collaboration-launched-focus-repurposing-existing-anti-viral-therapies on Friday.

The rapid spread of Omicron across the world has also forced researchers to find options that work against the variant. Britain currently has the seventh highest number of COVID cases in the world, according to Reuters.

The most effective combinations discovered through the project will be presented to UK authorities, including the Antiviral Task Force and UK-CTAP, so they can be added to clinical trials, Oxford said.

“There are multiple benefits to discovering new treatments in this way,” said Ultan Power, one of the project’s lead researchers.

“They have undergone all the necessary checks, so we know they are safe and readily available, they can be self-administered and used at home, helping to reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”

The 1.6 million pound ($2.2 million) project is being led by Queen’s University Belfast, with experts from Queen’s, the University of Liverpool and Oxford. It is funded by the UK Medical Research Council.

($1 = 0.7369 pounds)

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