Russian scientists have found that at least two of the existing drugs are potentially effective against COVID-19. In this they were helped by a new method of molecular modeling, writes IQ.HSE.

One of the drugs is disulfiram, which is used to treat alcohol dependence. The second is neratinib, an experimental breast cancer drug.

“Potentially, both drugs are covalent inhibitors of a protein – the main protease of the coronavirus (Mpro) – the key enzyme responsible for the replication of SARS-CoV-2 (copying its genetic material and assembling new viral particles),” explains the publication.

During the pandemic, doctors around the world began testing experimental protocols at their own risk, using drugs against HIV (lopinavir and ritonavir), malaria (chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine) and other diseases. However, the search for drugs was carried out blindly.

The global pharmaceutical industry was caught off guard. Even if potentially effective candidate substances are quickly found, testing them will take four to seven years. Therefore, it seems a reasonable solution to search among already known and safe drugs.

To find out which ones are potentially effective against the coronavirus, scientists used computer simulations. This approach is called in silico – by analogy with in vivo (in a living organism) and in vitro (in a test tube).

As a target for a potential drug, scientists chose the structural elements of the coronavirus, which are least susceptible to mutations.

The research will be published in the July issue of Mendeleev Communications magazine. Read more about the opening in the IQ.HSE magazine.