Can Psychotropic Drugs Protect Us From Covid-19?

Researchers at the Sainte-Anne Psychiatric Hospital in Paris have noticed a possible protective effect from a drug used to treat bipolarity. A first clinical trial in humans is expected to start soon. The first antipsychotic treatment in history could play a key role in the fight against the proliferation of the coronavirus. This is what researchers at Sainte-Anne Hospital are trying to discover thanks to the reCoVery project, the first global study on this subject.
The scientists noted a low prevalence of severe symptomatic forms of Covid-19 in patients with mental disorders. In the Paris hospital, around 19% of the medical staff contracted the virus, while only 3% of the patients tested positive. Other psychiatric units in China, Italy, Spain and elsewhere in France have noticed the same trend.

The team then turned their attention to chlorpromazine, the first antipsychotic drug used to treat disorders such as bipolarity or schizophrenia. To find out more, they launched the reCoVery project in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur. Previous in vitro studies on chlorpromazine conducted in 2014 and 2018 had demonstrated an inhibitory action on the entry of the virus into the cells. This effect is thought to occur in the early and late stages of infection.
Tests with the Institut Pasteur confirm the antiviral effect of chlorpromazine on the coronavirus. A second part of the study, based on serologies, will take place within the GHU Paris. And a first clinical trial in patients hospitalized in the Covid + unit will be the third step to verify these results.
The Pasteur Institute announces at the same time that it has joined an international initiative bringing together researchers from the California University of San Francisco (UCSF), the Gladstone Institutes, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Their goal: to study promising compounds for clinical trials in order to fight against Covid-19.

The first results are encouraging. After creating a catalog of more than 300 human proteins that the virus needs to infect cells and reproduce, the team looked at existing molecules that could be targeted to these proteins. Some antipsychotic drugs are among the antivirals considered to be promising.

“The results obtained not only allow researchers to identify the best drug candidates to launch new clinical trials, but also shed light on the cellular processes involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection,” says the Pastor Institute. This research would also allow the discovery of treatments applicable to different viruses and non-viral diseases.


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