• Insights from nanomedicine into chloroquine efficacy against COVID-19

      Hu, T.Y.; Frieman, M.; Wolfram, J. (32203437, 2020)
      Recent multicentre clinical trials and cell culture studies suggest that the 70-year-old malaria drug, chloroquine, may potentially display therapeutic efficacy against COVID-19 (corona virus disease 2019), a rapidly spreading viral infection that can cause pneumonia-induced death in approximately 2.5% of infected individuals. Based on the preliminary clinical trial findings, chloroquine has been included in federal guidelines for treatment of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China. However, caution should be exercised when making premature interpretations, as clinical trials are still ongoing and interim trial data have not yet been made available. Given the current lack of an approved and effective vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19, it is important to evaluate potential prophylactic and/or therapeutic effects of drugs that are clinically approved for other indications. Chloroquine and its derivative, hydroxychloroquine, have a long history as safe and inexpensive drugs for use as prophylactic measures in malaria-endemic regions and as daily treatments for autoimmune diseases with the most common side effect being eye damage after long-term use. Although previous studies have revealed that chloroquine has therapeutic activity against viruses5, including human coronavirus OC43 in animal models and SARS-CoV in cell culture studies, anti-viral mechanisms of chloroquine remain speculative. Chloroquine has been used in the field of nanomedicine for the investigation of nanoparticle uptake in cells, and, therefore, insights from synthetic nanoparticle interactions with cells in the presence of chloroquine may reveal mechanisms that are active at early stages prior to viral replication. Specifically, nanomedicine studies may provide clues on chloroquine-induced alterations of SARS-CoV-2 cellular uptake.