UTHSC identifies drugs as possible coronavirus treatments

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 21, 2020 4:06 PM CT | Published: October 21, 2020 3:57 PM CT
<strong>Colleen Jonsson</strong>

Colleen Jonsson

University of Tennessee Health Science Center and University of New Mexico researchers have identified three drugs which could possibly be used as early-stage novel coronavirus treatments.

The three drugs – zuclopenthixol, nebivolol and amodiaquine – are already approved for other uses in humans.

Amodiaquine is an antimalarial, zuclopenthixol is an antipsychotic and nebivolol is a blood pressure medication.

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The research was conducted in UTHSC’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory – located in Memphis – led by its director Colleen Jonsson.

After looking at 4,000 approved drugs, the researchers found that zuclopenthixol, nebivolol and amodiaquine act similarly to hydroxychloroquine – frequently studied in clinical trials as a COVID-19 therapeutic – and in some cases more safely.

They also found that the drugs may be more effective when combined in lower doses with the antiviral remdesivir. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave remdesivir an emergency-use authorization to be used as a novel coronavirus treatment.

Jonsson said researchers would be following up on the potential use of the drugs in more research studies. 

Dr. Tudor Oprea, chief of the University of New Mexico Division of Translational Informatics and corresponding author on the researchers’ new paper, compared their search for coronavirus therapeutics to a game of whack-a-mole.

“Instead of having one hammer, you have two hammers, which is more effective,” he said, in a release. “We’re trying to give the scientific community two hammers, instead of one.”


Colleen Jonsson UTHSC
Elle Perry

Elle Perry

The Memphis native and two-time University of Memphis graduate has written for publications including The Memphis Business Journal, Memphis Flyer and High Ground News, and previously served as coordinator of The Teen Appeal.


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