Universal siRNA treatment for COVID-19 shows promise

Novel siRNAs show promise against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants.

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Scientists are actively searching for effective treatments against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. One promising approach involves using siRNA to target the virus and stop its replication. This new study explores the potential of a universal siRNA treatment for COVID-19 in laboratory experiments.

A new study by Dr. Chantelle Ahlenstiel and her team from UNSW Sydney‘s Kirby and RNA Institutes suggests that a tiny molecule called siRNA could potentially treat COVID-19. SiRNA is like a tiny tool that can cut the virus into pieces. It interferes with the virus’s ability to make more copies of itself.

This new study used lab experiments with cells and found that siRNA might work better against COVID-19 than current antiviral treatments. If future clinical trials confirm this, siRNA could become an essential weapon against COVID-19.

New research discovered that siRNA treatment can attack essential parts of the virus that stay the same even as it changes. This research means it can work against all the different versions of the virus. It’s not just for the current one, but also for any new ones that might appear in the future. The study found that siRNA treatment lowered virus levels by up to 99.9% for all the virus versions. It’s even more potent than Sotrovimab and Remdesivir, which are other treatments.

Dr. Chantelle Ahlenstiel from the Kirby Institute said, “siRNA can stop SARS-CoV-2 replication by directly targeting the virus itself, which means there is no immune system involvement, so a recipient doesn’tdoesn’t need a functioning immune system for the treatment to work. This will make siRNA an important treatment option for people with impaired immunity.”

With the Medical Research Future Fund funding, scientists are working on a special treatment called siRNA, which can stop viruses. Researchers are adding tiny particles called lipid nanoparticles to improve the treatment. This new treatment will be given through the nose or mouth to help people breathe it in. So its a new and exciting thing for Australia, as they are teaming up with a Medspray company to make this special spray.

Professor Pall Thordarson, who leads a group of researchers, said, “The next step is to test this treatment on mice in a special lab before using it on people.” He’s hopeful this treatment could soon become a part of clinical trials.

Scientists have done something significant in history by quickly making vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. But only some of these treatments work well for everyone. Some have problems, like needing to be changed as the virus changes or causing side effects.

Professor Anthony Kelleher from the Kirby Institute said that, “people are still getting sick from COVID-19, and there is a big need for new treatments that can work for a long time and are easy to use. He is excited about siRNA, which could be a treatment that works even before new virus versions show up.”

Dr. Ahlenstiel, who did the research, explains that ,”this new treatment is still being tested on lab animals. But they hope that siRNA can be a simple and promising way to treat COVID-19 in a few years, especially for people with weaker immune systems.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Ellen Bowden-Reid, Scott Ledge, et al., Novel siRNA therapeutics demonstrate multi-variant efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. Antiviral Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2023.105677.
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