Israeli Researchers Declare Significant Progress in Search for Coronavirus Cure

(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Two Hebrew University of Yerushalayim studies published in international journals Viruses and Pharmaceuticals have shown significant promise in the search for a cure for the coronavirus.

Professor Yeshayah Arkin of the university’s Biological Chemistry Department, who led the studies on potential cures for a number of viruses, focused his research efforts on ion channels, or pore-forming membrane proteins, that play a vital role in the path to infection. Through the E and 3a proteins, researchers can examine which materials approved for use on humans have the ability to inhibit the virus’ ability to infect the body. As these proteins have both been found in newer virus variants, the inhibitors will likely prove effective at combating common variants of the disease.

The first study located two inhibitors: Gliclazide, a medication used to treat diabetes, and Memantine, a medication used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Another 10 inhibitors were found in the second research study. All of the inhibitors located in the study have already been approved for use on people, and as a result, are expected to lead to a cure for the disease.

“The biggest barrier – the unavailability of a laboratory to test the substances directly on the coronavirus – has been removed. We are now able to carry out better research and work at a fast pace. Things we thought about the virus a year ago can easily prove to be true,” Arkin said.

He cautioned, however, that “the general sense in the country and around the world is that if there are vaccines, there is no reason to continue to work on the virus because we have found a cure.

“Unfortunately, if we only rely on one channel, we could find ourselves in a situation in which new variants appear that hit us hard,” he said.

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