Researchers at the University of Hong Kong said on Monday that they have found that a way to tackle the novel coronavirus with a drug that is commonly used to treat stomach ulcers.
They said experiments in the laboratory showed that the drug, ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC), which contains a metal called bismuth, can be used to reduce viral loads in coronavirus-infected cells by over 1,000-fold.
Dr Runming Wang from the university’s Department of Chemistry said the drug is also cheaper and safer than Remdesivir, which is currently used to treat Covid-19.
He said the drug works by targeting a protein in the virus and preventing the virus from replicating.
“As the process of developing an effective vaccine is still ongoing, another approach for preventing and treatment of the disease is to identify anti-Covid-19 agents from existing drugs to repurpose their uses,” he said.
Wang said the drug can be stored at room temperature and without any special requirements.
The team said it had applied for a patent in the US.