The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic poses one of the greatest challenges to modern medicine. Therefore, identification of new therapeutic strategies seems essential either based on novel vaccines or drugs or simply repurposing existing drugs. Notably, due to their known safety profile, repurposing of existing drugs is the fastest and highly efficient approach to bring a therapeutic to a clinic for any new indication. One such drug that has been used extensively for decades is chloroquine (CQ, with its derivatives) either for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Accumulating body of evidence from experimental pharmacology suggests that CQ and related analogues also activate certain pathways that can potentially be exploited for therapeutic gain. For example, in the airways, this has opened an attractive avenue for developing novel bitter taste ligands as a new class of bronchodilators for asthma. While CQ and its derivatives have been proposed as a therapy in COVID-19, it remains to be seen whether it really work in the clinic? To this end, our perspective aims to provide a timely yet brief insights on the existing literature on CQ and the controversies surrounding its use in COVID-19. Further, we also highlight some of cell-based mechanism(s) that CQ and its derivatives affect in mediating variety of physiological responses in the cell. We believe, data emanating from the clinical studies and continual understanding of the fundamental mechanisms may potentially help in designing effective therapeutic strategies that meets both efficacy and safety criteria for COVID-19.
Sharma, Pawan; McAlinden, Kielan D.; Ghavami, Saeid; and Deshpande, Deepak A., "Chloroquine: Autophagy inhibitor, antimalarial, bitter taste receptor agonist in fight against COVID-19, a reality check?" (2021). Center for Translational Medicine Faculty Papers. Paper 81.
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