Northeastern University researchers have identified 40 new potential drugs that could treat coronavirus. The findings, reported via Northeastern University’s Center for Complex Network Science Research on Wednesday, come from a modeling tool for infection dynamics based on network science consisting of complex math, physics, and computing.
The leader of the team, Romanian-born ethnic Hungarian Albert-László Barabási, a physicist best known for his work on network theory, announced the findings in a tweet.
“We have prioritized many more drugs, but there are 40 that we are actually trying to move forward,” Barabási said. His team modeled the role of the 332 proteins targeted by the coronavirus and predicted other mechanisms those proteins could trigger within the cell to lead to the symptoms of COVID-19.
“By simply identifying what neighborhood the virus hits, we can identify what are the potential drugs that are hitting in the same neighborhood, and therefore could be effective against the virus,” Barabási says.
Barabási, an author of several popular books on network theory, including Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do, was one of the first to warn about the dangers of a potential coronavirus pandemic back in February.
By March, he was of the opinion that the spread of the coronavirus cannot be stopped anymore and the best the world could do was to slow its spread. He emphasized the importance of temporary school closures and believes the slowdown of the global economy is not a huge price to pay when the most important goal is saving lives.
He was also among the first to warn that all the models predict that half of the population will become infected within one year and that in the absence of measures to fight the spread, there would not be enough hospital beds to treat all infected once the virus peaked.
Title image: Albert-László Barabási in Budapest. (source:portfolio.hu)