Christina Barkauskas, M.D.

Christina Barkauskas, M.D.

Institution: Duke University

Project: Testing Tapeworm Drug Against COVID-19 Virus

Grant(s): COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

We will study a drug called niclosamide, a formerly FDA-approved tapeworm drug. Reformulated as a nose and throat spray, niclosamide could be an effective preventative and early treatment for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Unlike a vaccine, which provokes a specific immune response against a particular protein on a particular virus, niclosamide targets host cells and exerts indirect anti-viral effects. As a result, niclosamide could function as prophylactic agent against emerging respiratory viruses as well. We will test the anti-viral effects of niclosamide in cell-culture models and in rodent models of infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. These data will provide a preclinical foundation necessary to obtain designation by the FDA for niclosamide as an Investigational New Drug, a crucial step before testing niclosamide in early phase clinical studies in humans.

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