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Crop Biotech Update

Study: Heartburn Medicine Doesn't Work as COVID-19 Antiviral

July 29, 2020

Anecdotal reports from China indicated that COVID-19 patients who were taking famotidine for heartburn had reduced rates of intubation and mortality compared to those who took a different kind of antacid drugs. However, preliminary results of a study conducted by Boston University and partners showed that famotidine has no antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers systematically analyzed the effect of famotidine on viral proteases and virus replication and found that famotidine neither binds with nor inhibits SARS-CoV-2 proteases. Furthermore, no direct antiviral activity of famotidine was found at concentrations of up to 200 μM, when tested against SARS-CoV-2 in two different cell lines, including a human cell line originating from lungs, a primary target of COVID-19. However, the researchers said they are not concluding that the drug might be helpful in other ways.

"We're not challenging that famotidine might help...We're saying that the mechanism of action is not antiviral," said Mohsan Saeed, a virologist from Boston University and one of the authors of the study.

Read more details in Science News and bioRxiv.

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