As scientists search for a treatment and cure for COVID-19, they're now looking at drugs that have been used to treat other diseases to see how effective they might be against the coronavirus.
Dr. David Fajgenbaum, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania and five-time survivor of a disease similar to COVID-19, joined Eyewitness News to discuss how repurposed drugs may provide the crucial part of finding a cure of the virus.
Watch the video above for the full interview.
You wrote a book about your work in finding a cure for Castleman disease, which involved a repurposed drug. What did you learn from that and how did you get involved in studying COVID-19?
"I decided to dedicate my life to trying to study and identify a treatment, maybe a cure, for my disease. After years, I found a drug that had been approved and available for 30 years, that no one had ever tried for my disease and I started testing it on myself. Today marked over six years that I've been in remission on this drug... So when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, I immediately thought of all the similarities between COVID-19 and the Castleman disease, the disease that I struggle with. I thought about our efforts to identify and repurpose drugs and I decided that I wanted to refocus my lab on searching for an existing drug, something that's already out there that can be tried against COVID-19."
We've already heard about a few existing drugs that may be used as coronavirus treatments. What have you been seeing?
"We found over 150 different drugs have already been given to humans with COVID-19 so lots of drugs are being tried, many of those drugs have only been tried in a small number of patients. But the good news is that there are drugs being attempted to be used against COVID-19 and there are a few... these are drugs that actually are developed for Castleman disease that are showing a lot of promise right now. So we're really hopeful that just because we've only heard about a few, there are actually many more that may have real important effects."
Doctor using personal experience to look into existing drugs to repurpose for COVID-19