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Faculty of Medicine Professor Norio Yamamoto and Others Explain Effects of Potential COVID-19 Treatment Drug "Nelfinavir"

School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Professor Norio Yamamoto (Division of Basic
Medicine, Department of Host Defense Mechanism) and others are receiving a great deal of attention for research results they published on the biology preprint repository website 『bioRxiv』 ("Bioarchive"), explaining the potential use of nelfinavir as a treatment drug for COVID-19.

Nelfinavir is a treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that works by inhibiting the functions of protease (proteolytic enzyme). In response to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, Professor Yamamoto worked to find a drug that could be utilized quickly by screening the library of approved anti-viral drugs using cultured cells to verify their effects against the SARS virus. As a result, Yamamoto found that nelfinavir strongly inhibited viral replication, and he published a paper about these findings in 2004. He used the same methods to verify the effectiveness of several existing drugs, including nelfinavir, against COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). Yamamoto and the other researchers demonstrated that nelfinavir has the same inhibitive effects against COVID-19.

Yamamoto reflected, "Because the SARS outbreak ended in a short timeframe, nelfinavir was not used as a treatment. However, I always maintained a sense of urgency that an outbreak caused by a similar virus could occur and have always kept [nelfinavir] in mind as a potential drug treatment." He added, "Currently, clinical trials with COVID-19 patients are ongoing, mainly in Nagasaki University, and I am participating as a joint researcher."

View the preprint published on the 『bioRxiv』 website at the following link: