Gout medication around for four decades showing promise in treating COVID-19, UGA research shows

ATLANTA — Researchers at the University of Georgia are very optimistic they may have found a new way to treat COVID-19 by using medicine that’s been around for years.

Channel 2′s Wendy Corona spoke with Dr. Ralph Tripp, a UGA professor of infectious diseases, on Friday who said his work of two decades is now showing great promise for treatment of coronavirus.

“This is pure science, you know? We have good solid data for this,” Tripp said.

Tripp learned that probenecid, an FDA-approved drug used to commonly treat gout, can be repurposed to treat respiratory illnesses like flu, RSV and more importantly, coronavirus.

“It works on not only circulating strains of coronavirus, but most of the variants as well,”

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The research has gone on for about two decades and was recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Tripp found probenecid blocks the virus from replicating and infecting individual cells, a major discovery.

“Because it works on the whole cell, not the virus, you can’t get resistance to the drug,” Tripp said.

Tested on ten individuals in Florida with COVID-19, researchers found after the individuals were given probenecid symptoms eased in three days instead of weeks.

Funding for large clinical trials must follow, but the outlook is that a drug that has helped with gout for four decades may be what’s needed to stop the suffering from COVID-19. More research lies ahead.

“Right now, the idea is trying to figure out the dose as rapidly as possible to then transfer that knowledge to all populations,” Tripp said.

Another advantage of probenecid is that it is a tablet form versus an IV, which isn’t simple around the world.

Tripp believes the drug could be used to help prevent people from getting sick, but would primarily be used for people who have tested positive for the virus.

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