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Scientist surprised by discovery of 99% effective and cheap COVID treatment – ClarkCountyToday.com

A University of Florida researcher told people at WND that they were already reporting Benadryl results

Art Moore
WND News Center

The scientist who combined two widely available over-the-counter compounds that inhibited the novel coronavirus by 99% in early testing told WND he hoped his treatment would be available “within months.”

Dr. David Ostrov
Dr. David Ostrov
Courtesy of UF Health

“An FDA-approved treatment could be in sight within months if pharmaceutical companies use existing clinical trial resources,” Dr. David Ostrov said in an email interview with WND.

Ostrov, an immunologist and associate professor in the Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida, combined diphenhydramine, marketed as Benadryl, and lactoferrin, a milk protein, like WND reported in December.

“My prediction is that antiviral drug combinations, such as diphenhydramine and lactoferrin, will provide a similar level of benefit to monoclonal antibodies Regeneron, Pfizer and Merck antivirals, at less than 1/100 the cost of these therapies” , he told WND.

Ostrov said he knows he faces an uphill battle in his efforts to find a combination of cheap, safe and available drugs to fight COVID-19.

“I expected failure, but you never know until you try,” he said. “My reaction was surprise.”

His study, the first results of which show 99% effectiveness in inhibiting the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, was published on November 20 in the journal Pathogens.

Ostrov told WND he has been in communication with people who wonder if their use of the compounds helped prevent them from getting COVID-19.

He noted that “anecdotal stories are definitely not proof of efficacy,” but many people have contacted him about diphenhydramine and lactoferrin, and their results “are hard to ignore.”

“For a lot of people, they say everyone around them got COVID, but not them,” Ostrov said.

And they ask the professor if it’s diphenhydramine and/or lactoferrin.

“Without placebo-controlled clinical trials, we won’t have a definitive answer,” he said. “The answer for now, however, is maybe.”

Ostrov mentioned a contact who takes a daily dose of Benadryl and regularly drinks milk. She said she had been in close contact for hours with someone who was hospitalized the next day with COVID-19. But after waiting five days from the time of exposure, she tested negative for COVID.

He warned that people ‘considering their own concoction should understand that our experiments were conducted with human lactoferrin, not cow’. And the lactoferrin he used was purified in a special way to enhance its antiviral properties and is unlikely to be on the shelves.

People should check with their doctor, Ostrov said, before taking any medicine for anything other than its intended use.

“Although historically there are relatively few adverse events reported for diphenhydramine and lactoferrin, it should be noted that long-term use of any drug, or combination of drugs, could have unintended consequences,” said he declared.

Ostrov said he hopes that once approved by the FDA, “people will be able to benefit from this combination of antiviral drugs for intervals of two to three months during each wave of COVID infections.”

Read the Q&A:

WND: I imagine there was joy in finding 99% effectiveness in inhibiting the replication of the virus that changed the world. Can you describe your reaction and your hopes regarding this possible treatment?

DR. OSTROV: Our goal was to find a combination of drugs that would work much better against SARS-CoV-2 when used together. I expected failure, but you never know until you try. My reaction was surprise.

Hopefully, this combination of antiviral drugs will be shown to effectively prevent and treat COVID (in placebo-controlled clinical trials).

Because these drugs are stable at room temperature, economical, widely available, and have a long history of safety, diphenhydramine and lactoferrin have the potential to inhibit coronavirus replication (and the emergence of new variants) at the same time. global scale.

WND: Can you explain in simple terms why these two compounds appear to be effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2?

DR. OSTROV: SARS-CoV-2 stresses cells in a way that creates a good environment for the virus to replicate.

Diphenhydramine binds to a specific protein involved in cell stress and prevents the virus from creating a good environment for replication.

Lactoferrin has antiviral activity for different reasons. Lactoferrin is thought to repel viral particles from target cells (by binding lipoproteins to cell surfaces). Lactoferrin is also thought to suppress virus replication.

WND: How did you find out that diphenhydramine was potentially effective against COVID-19?

DR. OSTROV: The story began before SARS, when my lab was studying drugs that bind to ACE2, the molecule that turned out to be the receptor for SARS and SARS-CoV-2.

We previously found that an antihistamine (hydroxyzine) binds ACE2, and in 2020 we were able to test this drug’s ability to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. It was an “aha” moment when the data clearly showed that a common antihistamine inhibited the virus that causes COVID. Different scientists at the University of Florida College of Medicine used different isolates of SARS-CoV-2, and the results were consistent with each other. An antihistamine can inhibit the virus!

We then realized that there might be similar drugs that could inhibit the virus, maybe even over-the-counter drugs. But what drugs?

We collaborated with investigators and UCSF where they reviewed the medical records of more than 219,000 people tested for SARS-CoV-2. They found that diphenhydramine use was associated with a lower incidence of SARS-CoV-2. In other words, in this population, people were less likely to get infected with COVID if they used diphenhydramine.

Why would taking an allergy pill reduce the risk of COVID? There could be many reasons, but is it possible that a simple allergy pill could directly inhibit the virus that causes COVID?

We did the experiments at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and the data was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Diphenhydramine exhibits direct antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Diphenhydramine inhibits virus replication, inhibits virus shedding, and inhibits host cell killing.

WND: Obviously, treatments for COVID-19 are needed now, but more research and human trials are needed, which takes time. Assuming that the other trials confirm your initial findings, how long will it be before such a treatment is available to the public?

DR. OSTROV: An FDA-approved treatment could be in sight within months if drug companies use existing clinical trial resources.

My prediction is that combination antiviral drugs, such as diphenhydramine and lactoferrin, will provide a similar level of benefit as monoclonal antibodies Regeneron, antivirals Pfizer and Merck, at less than 1/100 the cost of these therapies.

WND: What is your caution to people who might try their own concoction, perhaps with Benadryl and lactoferrin? Could there be adverse consequences?

DR. OSTROV: People considering their own concoction should understand that our experiments were conducted with human lactoferrin, not cow. The lactoferrin we used has been purified in a special way to enhance its antiviral properties. People are not likely to find this off the shelf.

Could there be adverse consequences? People should check with their doctor before taking an ‘off-label’ medicine, that is, using a medicine for a purpose other than that for which it is intended.

Although historically there are relatively few reported adverse events for diphenhydramine and lactoferrin, it should be noted that long-term use of any drug or drug combination may have unintended consequences.

I hope that people can benefit from this combination of antiviral drugs for intervals of two to three months during each wave of COVID infections.

WND: Are there currently any treatments for COVID-19 that you have found effective?

DR. OSTROV: Current treatments seem to speed up recovery, but not as dramatically as we would like. We can expect many monoclonal antibodies used for treatment to show reduced efficacy as circulating viruses acquire more mutations, such as in the omicron.

Based on our understanding of the mechanism of action, spike protein mutations are not expected to impact the antiviral activities of diphenhydramine and lactoferrin. This is important because it means we can inhibit the virus regardless of the mutations that occur in the spike protein.