Ahmed Zaky, M.D., MPH, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, was the principal investigator on the study, “Inhalational Bitter Taste Receptors Agonists for the Treatment of SARS-COV-2,” which also worked with Kevin Harrod, Ph.D., and Dan Berkowitz, M.D.

Their project goal was to determine whether BTRAs (Q, HQ, PTU) reduce SARS-COV-2 replication in-vitro. Cells were divided into treatment and pre-treatment groups depending on whether viral infection occurs prior to BTRAs (treatment group) or after (pre-treatment) viral infection. Then, viral replication was assessed using polymerase chain reaction assays.

Of the tested compunds, only HCQ and QS showed antiviral activity.

Zaky is currently testing more BTRAs. BTRAs with antivrial activity are being tested in human cell cultures. Moreover the team is working on inhalational formulation of BTRAs with antiviral activity in vitro.