Thapsigargin antiviral research note

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In summary: Like 'thap-cide' or some such.In summary, a research note discusses the effectiveness of thapsigargin in reducing viral replication, including against the Coronavirus. This compound has been studied in various biomedical contexts and shows potential as an antiviral treatment. However, its use as a prophylactic or long-term treatment may have unforeseen side effects and the source of the compound, Thapsia garganica, is also known as 'deadly carrot'.
  • #1

jim mcnamara

TL;DR Summary
Thapsigargin therapy is very effective antiviral, per this note.
Research note:
Popular science note:

The research note was hard to get to because there seems to be a copyright embargo1 on the primary paper in the journal "Viruses". Which I could not see, obviously.

The claim is that thapsigargin is effective at reducing viral replication - several virus types including Coronaviruses. Covid-19 is a Coronavirus and seems to be effected as well. This is not a case study, it uses animal models - my assumption.

Thapsigargin is a topic of a large number of other papers discussing properties of the compound - mostly biomedical.

A search in Google Scholar 'thapsigargin' will present with loads options for each flavor of secondary criterion. The point is the compound has lots of reports of interesting properties, which reduces the chances of this research note being a complete anomaly.

I would file it under the 'I hope that some day this has proven merit' section.

1 Copyright embargo:
In academic publishing, an embargo is a period during which access to academic journals is not allowed to users who have not paid for access (or have access through their institution).

If anyone can see the original, please correct anything that I managed to mess up above.

-- truly unhelpful in this case. It limits what we can reasonably get from either article, although the pop sci article has hyperbole, IMO. Which you should probably ignore.
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  • #2
jim mcnamara said:

Interesting. Would it be used prophylactically somehow, or just as an early treatment?
  • effective against viral infection when used before or during active infection
  • able to prevent a virus from making new copies of itself in cells for at least 48 hours after a single 30-minute exposure.
  • #3
The full text of the article is available here (it should be open access and freely available):

A few notes:
  • The evidence in the paper is based on studies of viral replication in cultured cells, which can be a poor model for what occurs in real infections in the human body. Several drugs that seem to work in experiments with cultured cells perform poorly in the clinic (e.g. hydroxychloroquine).
  • Unlike most antiviral drugs (which target proteins encoded by the virus), thapsigargin targets a protein inside of the host cell (an ER calcium pump). While this could account for its ability to prevent replication of a broad spectrum of unrelated viruses, it's also likely that inhibition of that protein is causing a lot of other problems with the cells. Side effects of the drug would be a major concern if it were being delivered systemically, especially if used long term in a prophylactic manner.
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  • #4
It seems to be a possible therapy for people with infections. This article:
indicates that it is a tumor promoter in some instances.

A priori, taking it like prophylactically, like aspirin to stave off a possible infection, does not sound wonderful to me. If you are in the infective phase or early phase II of Covid-19, and you have known high risk factors, maybe it would be okay. Can't say for sure. The stuff apparently can be administered PO -- orally since it is water soluble.

Also, just for fun, the stuff is extracted from a plant Thapsia garganica. The common name is 'deadly carrot' o0)

Thank you @Ygggdrasil
  • #5
jim mcnamara said:
Also, just for fun, the stuff is extracted from a plant Thapsia garganica. The common name is 'deadly carrot'
Whoops! That's going to be a PR problem... :wink:
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  • #6
berkeman said:
Whoops! That's going to be a PR problem... :wink:
Nah, the vendors will just give it a nickname.

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