A chaperone protein called GRP78, which is known to exacerbate the spread of cancer in the body, has been shown to do the same for viruses — including the one that causes COVID-19. The study, led by the Keck School of Medicine of USC, indicates that a promising new cancer drug could also treat COVID-19 across all variants.

Amy S. Lee, PhD, who helmed the research, had recently proven that a GRP78 inhibitor known as HA15 can reduce the spread of cancer. Now aware of the GRP78 commonalities shared by cancer and viruses, she led a study to test the drug’s effectiveness on genetically engineered mice infected with COVID-19. The results showed a dramatic decrease in the viral load found in the mice’s lungs.

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