(Reuters) – British researchers want to repurpose existing antiviral therapies to treat COVID-19, the University of Oxford said on Friday, in an attempt to sidestep lengthy development processes through readily available drugs.
Scientists will initially screen 138 drugs with known antiviral activity against the COVID-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus to study and identify potent combinations, the university said in a statement on Friday.
The rapid spread of Omicron across the world has also forced researchers to find options that work against the variant. Britain currently has the seventh-highest tally of COVID cases globally, according to Reuters.
The most effective combinations discovered through the project will be presented to British authorities, including the Antiviral Task Force and UK-CTAP, so they can be added to clinical trials, Oxford said.
“There are multiple benefits with discovering new treatments in this way,” said Ultan Power, one of the principal investigators of the project.
“They have been through all the necessary checks so we know they are safe and readily available, they can be self-administered and used at home, helping to reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”
The 1.6 million pound ($2.2 million) project is being led by Queen’s University Belfast, with experts from Queen’s, the University of Liverpool and Oxford. It is being funded by Britain’s Medical Research Council.
($1 = 0.7369 pounds)
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