Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

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New drug treatments for COVID-19 and other viruses

10/Jul/2020  
Professor Phil Robinson has spent more than 30 years studying how nerve cells communicate with each other, with a particular focus on a protein called ‘dynamin’. This has led to unexpected discoveries, such as potential new drug treatments for epilepsy, kidney disease, cancer and infectious diseases, including coronaviruses like COVID-19.
 
“There are thousands of different types of proteins in our cells—each performing an important function, from helping our cells to eat and breathe (metabolism) to communicating with other cells in our body to work together in a coordinated way.
 
“Dynamin is vital to cell communication because it helps messages get from the outside of our cells to the inside,” Professor Robinson said.  
 
Unfortunately, dynamin also helps viruses to get inside our cells. Preventing entry by viruses has great potential for treatment of many diseases.
 
“Since the pandemic began in early 2020, hundreds of clinical trials have been underway around the world to find a treatment for COVID-19. None of these drugs target viral entry mechanisms.”
 
This is why Professors Robinson’s and McCluskey’s work is so cutting-edge. They are suggesting a wholly new and unexplored clinical treatment concept that could block coronaviruses from entering human cells and prevent spread of infection by COVID-19.
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Professors Adam Mcclusky and Phil Robinson
 
For decades, Professors Phil Robinson at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) and Adam McCluskey at University of Newcastle (UoN) have been working on drugs which target dynamin, and they’ve recently shown that these drugs work in the lab to block COVID-19 entry.
 
“These new drugs could prove to be an effective treatment when used on their own or in combination with other anti-virals. However, additional research is needed to develop, test, and get them into clinical trials,” Professor Robinson said. “This is why funding and the support of the community is so important.”