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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

University of Tennessee researchers help identify three drugs as possible COVID-19 therapeutics

Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center helped identify three drugs that may be able to help treat COVID-19.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center helped identify three drugs that may be able to help treat COVID-19, according to a release.

They worked with researchers at the University of New Mexico and identified zuclopenthixol, nebivolol and amodiaquine as possible options to treat COVID-19 in its early stages. They said that the drugs may be good choices for future clinical trials trying to improve people's immunities to the coronavirus.

Amodiaquine is an older antimalarial drug, according to a release from researchers. They also said that zuclopenthixol is an antipsychotic, and nebivolol is a blood pressure medication.

The research was done at the UTHSC Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, according to officials. It is one of around a dozen federally-funded labs in the U.S. authorized to study contagious diseases.

There, researchers studied 4,000 approved drugs and compared them to hydroxychloroquine — the most-frequently studied drug in clinical trials for COVID-19 therapeutics. They found that the three drugs act similarly to hydroxychloroquine, and in some cases, act safer too.

They also said that treatment may improve when the drugs are combined in lower doses of remdesivir.

“Think of it as a whack-a-mole game,” said Tudor Oprea, an author on the paper. “Instead of having one hammer, you have two hammers, which is more effective. We’re trying to give the scientific community two hammers, instead of one.”

Researchers said they are continuing to examine potential uses of zuclopenthixol, nebivolol and amodiaquine in more studies.