Indian and Saudi Researchers Identify HIV Drug Zidovudine (GSK’s Retrovir) as Potential Therapy Targeting COVID-19

Jun 28, 2020 | AIIMS, COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University, News, SARS-CoV-2, Shaqra University

Indian and Saudi Researchers Identify HIV Drug Zidovudine (GSK’s Retrovir) as Potential Therapy Targeting COVID-19

An international team of researchers from Saudi Arabia’s Shaqra’s University, India’s AIIMS and America’s Johns Hopkins University have identified three potential drug molecules that could target SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19. One of the targets, Zidovudine (Retrovir), is already prescribed for HIV patients. The team have also been studying 3D models of SARS-CoV-2 and have pinpointed sites for improved drug delivery.    

The Study

Published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, the team utilized virtual screening, molecular modeling and analysis of drug molecules reactions against target proteins on COVID-19. The team identified three potential targets, including two unnamed molecules, and Zidovudine, a drug used for HIV, emerged as a strong contender for clinical trials. According to Yadav from AIMMS, the group plans on approaching PGIMER Chandigarh to explore a prospective collaboration involving laboratory investigations into the effectiveness of Zidovudine against SARS-CoV-2.

3D Models of SARS-CoV-2

The research team, including Dr. Shailendra Handua, who leads pharmacology at AIIMS/Rishikesh and Dr. Puneet Dhamija who participated in the study reported that they uncovered five sites on a model of SARS-CoV-2 that could be fertile targets for drugs. The team used this information to test 265 known drugs and 8,722 unnamed drug molecules against these sites identified on the 3D model.

What is Zidovudine (Retrovir)?

With a brand name Retrovir, this is a HIV antiviral drug used to treat HIV infection as well as used during childbirth to keep the mother from passing HIV to the baby. This medication doesn’t cure HIV or AIDS but may slow the progress of the disease and prolong life. Zidovudine is manufactured under the trade name Retrovir by GlaxoSmithKline. Retrovir was the first drug licensed to treat HIV infection, having been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

The Research Centers

AIIMS/Rishikesh or All India Institute of Medical Sciences operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  It is considered one of the Institutes of National importance in India. Shaqra University in Saudi Arabia comes under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. Johns Hopkins University is a leading academic research center in the United States.

Lead Research/Investigators

Rohitash Yadav, PhD, AIIMS

Dr.Kapil Suchal, Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Mohammad Imran, Professor Pharmacology, Shaqra University

Dr Shailendra Handua, AIIMS/ Rishikesh