Feline Coronavirus Med

Cat drug may help people too

A drug used to treat a coronavirus in cats may work for humans to block the replication and spread of the virus causing COVID-19.

Researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, say two dipeptide-based protein inhibitors (GC376 and GC373) that may be useful in fighting feline coronaviruses in some cases have the potential to slow or stop the replication of the COVID-19 in humans. Of the 20 cats tested using these drugs, 19 recovered.

“Some parts of the viral genome are highly conserved (unchanged through evolution) among different subgroups of coronaviruses,” says Joanne Lemieux, professor of biochemistry at the University of Alberta. “It is not surprising that a feline drug could be used to treat COVID-19, especially since this drug targets the main protease of the virus, which is highly conserved.”

An application was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by manufacturer Anivive. “They are pursuing clinical trials in the U.S.,” Lemieux says. “We were recently awarded a grant to start trials here in Canada, pending approval.”