Italy to run trials of potential COVID treatment

28 Oct 2020

As the world races to develop a vaccine to the coronavirus, Italy has initiated human clinical trials on raloxifene, a generic osteoporosis drug that is said to reduce COVID-19 symptoms and make patients more immune to the virus.

After analysing the drug using supercomputers, screening over 400,000 molecules for chemical characteristics, it was claimed that it could be a COVID-19 treatment.

A public-private consortium led by Italy’s Dompé Farmaceutici, Excalate4Cov is hoping that raloxifene blocks replication of the virus in cells. Andrea Beccari and the team are looking to see is the disease is slowed down by the generic drug. “It took a million hours of calculation,” he said.

Head of research at Dompé Farmaceutici, Marco Allegretti said, “It inhibits virus replication, thus preventing the worsening of patients with mild symptoms, and also decreases infectivity, limiting the viral load.”

Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital and Milan’s Humanitas will host trials on 450 patients, giving them a seven-day treatment of raloxifene capsules. 

The European Commission is backing the Excalate4Cov platform which also coordinates supercomputing centres in Italy, Germany and Spain. 

12 coronavirus proteins were constructed using the supercomputers in order to carry out simulations to see how the drug works against the virus.