Head-lice drug gives scientist hope in fight against Covid-19

  • Head-lice drug gives scientist hope in fight against Covid-19

Head-lice drug gives scientist hope in fight against Covid-19

For 30 years, Ivermectin has been prescribed for people and animals to treat roundworm, head lice and scabies.Now tests by Monash University and Doherty Institute researchers show the medication can also stop COVID-19.

"We would never recommend anyone to self medicate, only listen to your healthcare providers", she said.

The research says that the development of an effective anti-viral for the coronavirus, if given to patients early on in their infection, could limit their viral load, stop the disease progressing and prevent transmission.

Good news may be around the corner as Australian scientists claim that they have tested an existing Anti-Parasitic drug against Coronavirus with very promising results.

"In times when we're having a global pandemic and there isn't an approved treatment, if we had a compound that was already available around the world then that might help people sooner", she said. 'Realistically it's going to be a while before a vaccine is broadly available.' Scientists expect it could be at least a month before human trials.

The research was led by Monash's Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), together with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The team is now applying for funding for human trials from the Australian government's Medical Research Future Fund.

Ivermectin is only available on prescription for treating parasites, and Wagstaff warns people should not be rushing out to buy it to protect themselves against coronavirus.

"There isn't enough evidence it will work in humans, it's a possibility and it needs to be investigated seriously first", she said. This drug is absorbed usually by the oral route and acts on the nerves and cells of the parasite that you want to delete. Further research will be needed to determine whether the drug could be used to treat COVID-19.

She, however pointed out that the drug, Ivermectin, is an anti-parasitic drug that has also been shown to be effective in vitro against a broad range of viruses including HIV, Dengue, Influenza and Zika virus.

The exact manner in which the drug is able to kill the virus is not yet known, although Wagstaff said it was likely done by "dampening down" the ability of host cells to clear the drug. "Ivermectin is safe and can be used on a wide scale".

It is on the World Health Organisation's list of essential medicines.

"Even at 24 hours, there was a really significant reduction in it", Dr Kylie Wagstaff, the lead researcher, said in a statement today.