In order to quickly provide therapeutics for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID‑19, drugs already approved for other indications can be screened to determine whether they are also suitable for the treatment of a SARS‑CoV‑2 infection. This approach is known as repurposing.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME has already identified several drug candidates against SARS‑CoV‑2 from a repurposing library. In order to improve the efficacy of these candidates and to reduce possible side effects, the release of these drugs should take place as specifically as possible at the site of infection. Based on the criteria of biological activity, mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics, and physicochemical properties, five drug candidates were selected for further investigation of suitable formulations for application to the respiratory tract.
In parallel with the identification of the drug candidates, Fraunhofer IGB has developed tissue- and cell type-specific nanoparticular drug delivery systems for these drugs together with FIP_DD@HUJI. The partners are drawing on experience in formulating antiviral compounds against HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus) for safe transport and targeted release in human 3D tissue models. These formulations are based on liposomal release systems, which will now be investigated in combination with the drug candidates.