2-in-1 anti-infective drugs?

Posted by Clara van Hoey on December 8, 2017

A viral outbreak can occur at any time and spread across the entire planet rapidly! Unfortunately, the development of a new drug is a long and costly process. Is there a solution to provide antiviral drugs faster?

Anti-infective drugs, such as antivirals or antibiotics, use a specific pathway to disturb the multiplication of the infective agent. Knowing that bacteria and viruses are completely different, theoretically, no antibacterial agent should inhibit viruses.

In fact, the misuse of antibacterials to treat viral infections is a serious public health issue. The administration of an antibiotic to treat a viral infection, like the common cold, supports the generation of antibiotic resistances. This is why no antibiotics should be used against viruses.

Yet, by using a known drug for a new application, it is possible to save time and money. This process is called “repurposing of drugs” and it can be particularly useful to combat an emerging virus by using drugs already on the market!

In order to identify the potential of current drugs, it is necessary to evaluate the activity of thousands of compounds by screening chemical libraries containing known drugs against a virus.

Several results of screening against viruses have shown that some antibiotics also present an antiviral action. Consequently, a 2-in-1 anti-infective drug could exist: Minocycline is a tetracycline antibiotic which can inhibit the Dengue virus, among others. Teicoplanin, a powerful glycopeptide antibiotic also showed an inhibition of several viruses like Ebola, Hepatitis C, and HIV, at least in cell assays.

The identification by a screening of an antiviral activity could be a valid reason to use an antibiotic or its derivative to treat a viral infection! And these examples of antibiotics with antiviral properties could become an example of repurposing of drugs for antiviral applications!

The principle of repurposing has already been illustrated a long time ago thanks to an antiviral drug: Amantadine. Primarily used as a preventive treatment against the flu, the drug Amantadine showed a significant improvement for patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and nowadays this antiviral is used in the clinic as a treatment for this disease!

So, which other drugs will be repurposed?