Italian research finds diuretic drugs promising for COVID-19 treatment

A group of researchers from the University of Bari said their studies showed an ingredient of diuretic drugs, traditionally used to treat high blood pressure, is promising in halting the impact of the coronavirus in patients.

The findings, which were published in the peer-reviewed MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) academic journal last week, showed that ethacrynic acid, the main component of some diuretic pharmaceuticals, can be an “effective inhibitor” of the coronavirus.

Though the research is preliminary, the journal said the data “can be the starting point for the development of an effective therapeutic strategy” against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Diuretic pharmaceuticals are traditionally used to treat high blood pressure by reducing the amount of sodium in a patient’s bloodstream.

A researcher at the university told Xinhua on Wednesday that the effectiveness of the diuretic pharmaceuticals was revealed during research looking into the possibility of using existing drugs to help curb the spread of the virus, a process known as “drug repurposing.”

The research was carried out at the Department of Medical Sciences at the University of Bari in southern Italy together with University Campus Bio-Medico in Rome last year.

The development comes as vaccination is underway in Italy and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 64 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 15.

But health experts say there is still a strong need for therapeutic drugs to help treat patients who fall ill to COVID-19 before vaccines can be fully rolled out.