A collaborative study led by the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, has shown that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug already available around the world, kills the coronavirus in cell culture within 48 hours.
Ivermectin, an FDA-approved anti-parasitic previously shown to have broad-spectrum anti-viral activity in vitro, is an inhibitor of the causative virus (SARS-CoV-2), with a single addition to Vero-hSLAM cells two hours post infection with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) able to effect ∼5000-fold reduction in viral RNA at 48 hours. The study concluded that ivermectin therefore warrants further investigation for possible benefits in humans.
Originally identified as an inhibitor of interaction between the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) integrase protein and the importin α/β1 heterodimer responsible for IN nuclear import, ivermectin has since been confirmed to inhibit IN nuclear import and HIV-1 replication.
Other actions of ivermectin have been reported, but ivermectin has been shown to inhibit nuclear import of host and viral proteins. It has been demonstrated to limit infection by RNA viruses such as DENV 1-4, West Nile Virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and influenza.
The results of this latest study demonstrate that ivermectin has antiviral action against the SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate in vitro, with a single dose able to control viral replication within 24-48 hours.
The study authors stated: ‘Ultimately, development of an effective anti-viral for SARS-CoV-2, if given to patients early in infection, could help to limit the viral load, prevent severe disease progression and limit person-person transmission.’