Coronavirus Drug for Cats Has Potential Use for COVID-19 Virus in Humans

“It is not surprising that a feline drug could be used to treat COVID-19”

Newswise — BUFFALO, N.Y., August 4, 2020 -- A drug used to treat a coronavirus in cats could potentially work for humans to block the replication and spread of the virus causing COVID-19.

Researchers at the University of Alberta said a protease, a specific enzyme that breaks down proteins, in SARS-CoV-2 can be targeted with a drug that is also used to treat feline infectious peritonitis, a fatal infection in cats caused by a coronavirus. The drugs, dipeptide-based protein inhibitors, could be used to slow or stop replication of the COVID-19 virus in humans.

During the 70th annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association, being held online Aug. 2-7, Joanne Lemieux, a professor in the department of biochemistry at the University of Alberta, will outline how the drugs are strong candidates for the treatment of human coronavirus infections, because they have already been successful in cats.

“In cats, GC376 (the prodrug) converts to GC373 and was able to successfully treat cats with no toxicity. Of the 20 cats tested, 19 recovered,” Lemieux said. “The main protease in feline form of coronavirus and the virus associated with feline infectious peritonitis is highly homologous compared to the SARS-CoV2 protease associated with COVID-19.”

Lemieux said the protease inhibitors are soluble and nontoxic. Experiments showed GC376 and GC373 were effective on the protease for both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.

“Some parts of the viral genome are highly conserved among different subgroup of coronaviruses,” she said. “It is not surprising that a feline drug could be used to treat COVID-19, especially since this drug targets the main protease of the virus, which is highly conserved.”

Lemieux said the work done across different departments at the university, chemistry, biochemistry, medical microbiology and immunology, lays the framework for human trials of this treatment. She said an application was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Anivive, a company that develops specialty pet medicines.

“They are pursuing clinical trials in the U.S.,” she said. “We were recently awarded a grant to start trials here in Canada, pending approval. Anivive will help us with the clinical trial of GC376.”

The virtual session, “Structural insights into the feline coronavirus drug GC376, which inhibits the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 and blocks virus replication,” will be held Aug. 4 at 1:45 p.m. EDT. Media interested in viewing the virtual talk should contact for access.



Main meeting website:
Annual meeting program:


We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to view the virtual talks and sessions, contact For urgent requests, staff at can help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, video or background information.


The American Crystallographic Association was founded in 1949 through a merger of the American Society for X-Ray and Electron Diffraction (ASXRED) and the Crystallographic Society of America (CSA). The objective of the ACA is to promote interactions among scientists who study the structure of matter at atomic (or near atomic) resolution. These interactions will advance experimental and computational aspects of crystallography and diffraction. Understanding the nature of the forces that both control and result from the molecular and atomic arrangements in matter will help shed light on chemical interactions in nature and can therefore lead to cures for disease. See


Filters close

Showing results

110 of 3409
Newswise: Last-resort life support option helped majority of critically ill COVID-19 patients survive, global study shows
24-Sep-2020 3:20 PM EDT
Last-resort life support option helped majority of critically ill COVID-19 patients survive, global study shows
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

It saved lives in past epidemics of lung-damaging viruses. Now, the life-support option known as ECMO appears to be doing the same for many of the critically ill COVID-19 patients who receive it. Patients in a new international study faced a staggeringly high risk of death, as ventilators failed to support their lungs. But after they were placed on ECMO, their actual death rate was less than 40%.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 5:05 PM EDT
Case Western Reserve University researchers to examine how COVID-19 ravaged America’s nursing homes
Case Western Reserve University

Within a few months, federal officials reported that one of every five nursing homes had experienced a death from the novel coronavirus. Not long after, several media outlets published independent analysis finding that an estimated 40% of the fatalities related to COVID-19 took place in nursing homes. Rather than surrender to the terrifying trend, Case Western Reserve researchers saw an opportunity to help.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 4:15 PM EDT
Faced with pandemic shortages, researchers combine heat and humidity to disinfect N95 masks for reuse
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

They found that gently heating N95 masks in high relative humidity could inactivate SARS-CoV-2 virus trapped within the masks, without degrading the masks’ performance.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 3:30 PM EDT
Team assessing if dual-antibody injection prevents COVID-19 illness
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

A combination antibody treatment for preventing COVID-19 illness in individuals who have had sustained exposure to someone with the virus is being studied by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The clinical trial is enrolling patients at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 2:30 PM EDT
Yes, Wisconsin Republicans have the power to overturn the extended mask mandate order by Governor Evers

Republicans have the legal power to reverse the order by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers that extends the mask mandate.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 1:55 PM EDT
How do Americans view the virus? Anthropology professor examines attitudes of COVID
Northern Arizona University

In her ongoing research about Americans' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Arizona University anthropology professor Lisa Hardy and her collaborators have talked to dozens of people.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 12:55 PM EDT
During pandemic, racism puts additional stress on Asian Americans
Massachusetts General Hospital

Many people are feeling anxious during these uncertain times as they navigate the risks associated with COVID-19 and experience the tension from physical distancing or isolation for what can seem like an eternity.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 12:55 PM EDT
COVID-19 shapes political approval ratings
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Approval ratings of political leaders surged in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 12:40 PM EDT
ASU Researchers Receive $6m State Contract to Develop Rapid, 20-Minute Covid-19 Saliva Test
Arizona State University (ASU)

As the world manages through the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona State University continues its work to discover and develop easier and more widespread COVID-19 testing to assist in managing the virus.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 11:55 AM EDT
Scholars untangle marketing's complex role in understanding political activities
American Marketing Association (AMA)

As 2020 began, many pundits predicted a politically charged year, but few predicted that it would include a global pandemic overtaxing healthcare resources, strained U.S. race relations resulting in mass demonstrations across the globe, devastating fires consuming massive swaths of the United States, and a catastrophic global economic downturn.

Showing results

110 of 3409