Researchers from the University of Nottingham revealed an experimental cancer drug showed promising lab results against viral infections, and specifically against COVID-19.1
News about how to control or combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus has overtaken media outlets and public debate, to the detriment of addressing other public health issues. For example, during 2020 the rates of suicides,2 especially among young people, and drug overdoses3 have risen dramatically.
Recently, one focus is on debunking potential treatments that are not developed or manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry and encouraging the public to keep their eye squarely on the COVID-19 vaccine. News stories abound about where to get the vaccine, when and where the drug is being shipped and assurances that the side effects are minimal.
Recent research published in Viruses,4 however, revealed the drug thapsigargin may have broad-spectrum antiviral activity, including against coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2.
Experimental Cancer Pill Shows Antiviral Activity
In a press release,5 the researchers stressed the significance of improving the clinical management of a variety of viruses since clinical presentation is often indistinguishable.
The lab results demonstrated thapsigargin was highly effective against SARS-CoV-2 as well as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza A and the common cold coronavirus OC43. During the study, the researchers found that thapsigargin’s “performance was significantly better than remdesivir and ribavirin in their respective inhibition of OC43 and RSV.”6
In the same study, researchers tested thapsigargin in mice against a lethal influenza strain. It appeared to protect the animals during the challenge and had the ability to inhibit “different viruses before or during active infection.”7 The researchers concluded thapsigargin or its derivatives are a promising inhibitor of the viruses tested.
Thapsigargin is derived from the “deadly carrot” thapsia plant,8 also known as villous deadly carrot.9 The drug has previously been tested against prostate cancer and the scientists found that in small doses it had antiviral properties.
In the press release,10 the researcher listed some of the key features from other cell and animal studies they believe make thapsigargin a promising antiviral option. This included effectiveness when it was used preventively or during an active infection, stability in an acidic pH so it could be administered orally and greater effectiveness than current antiviral pharmaceutical options.
Another of the benefits the researchers believe thapsigargin has compared to other antiviral medications is that the viruses tested didn’t appear to develop a resistance to the compound’s actions.
Thapsigargin appeared to trigger an effective immune response in the body as opposed to fighting the virus directly. These responses help disrupt viral replication and mean the drug is potentially valuable against mutant strains since effectiveness is not dependent on direct interaction with the virus. Kin-Chow Chang, Ph.D., a scientist on the research team, is quoted in the Daily Mail saying:11
“Given that future pandemics are likely to be of animal origin, where animal to human (zoonotic) and reverse zoonotic (human to animal) spread take place, a new generation of antivirals, such as thapsigargin, could play a key role in the control and treatment of important viral infections in both humans and animals.”
When considering the financial end of it, the Daily Mail12 reports that thapsigargin could be expensive, as it costs $104 per 1 milligram (mg) dose when used in experimental research. However, the cost may be reduced if it were brought into full production, which would be necessary for the drug to have wide application, as it was estimated doses may range from 200 mg to 800 mg as a flu antiviral.
Early Administration of Zinc Reduces Viral Replication
Your immune system is the first line of defense against all disease, especially infectious diseases. One nutrient that plays an important role is zinc, which has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of infections caused by viruses such as those that cause the common cold.13 Data have suggested that those with low levels of zinc are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have higher levels.14
Zinc appears to be the key ingredient in treatment protocols using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a known zinc ionophore.15,16 This means that HCQ helps your cells absorb more zinc and, once inside, zinc prevents viral replication.
This is also why treatment with zinc and zinc ionophores works best when taken early in the illness or as a prophylactic. Other zinc ionophores include quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG), which is found in tea.17
Support for the use of quercetin against COVID-19 has also been reported by the Green Stars Project.18 Using a supercomputer, researchers looked for molecules capable of inhibiting the COVID-19 spike protein from interacting with human cells. Quercetin is fifth on the list.19
Physicians, such as French prize-winning microbiologist and infectious disease expert Didier Raoult, report using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. Raoult reports a combination of HCQ and azithromycin in the early months of the pandemic led to the recovery and nondetection of SARS-CoV-2 in 91.7% of 1,061 patients within 10 days.20
A now infamous study published in The Lancet in May 2020,21 which has since been retracted, sought to smear the use of the cost-effective and time-tested drug HCQ. They declared that HCQ used alone or with a macrolide antibiotic like azithromycin was associated with a reduction in survival and an increase in ventricular arrhythmias.
But, when scientists took a closer look at the results, they discovered the integrity of the data collection was suspect, for example, the study included administering doses of the drug that were 100 times higher than FDA recommendations.22
Financial Incentives Driving Treatment Protocols
As doctors began speaking out about using hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc and azithromycin in their practice, state medical licensing boards and congressional representatives began issuing threats.23 Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a New York physician who successfully treated his patients with the hydroxychloroquine trio, characterized the fiasco in an interview with Del Bigtree from The Highwire, saying:24
“My personal opinion … anyone who got in the way of access to care, who got in the way of access to medication, committed crimes against humanity and are guilty of mass murder.”
One of the most obvious reasons why certain individuals and companies might want to prevent the use of an inexpensive generic drug such as HCQ is because it might eliminate the need for a vaccine or the development of antiviral medication.25 Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested, and drug companies were, and still are, counting on a massive payday.
A paper recently published in The American Journal of Medicine by a team of scientists illustrated the pathophysiological basis and rationale for using HCQ and zinc.26 It is important to remember that while HCQ may have been politically vilified, the drug has been in use since the mid-1940s with a known side-effect history including nausea, vomiting, cramps or diarrhea27 that may happen in the first few days and disappear.
Less commonly, people may get tired, feel weak or have a headache, which again typically disappears with use. The CDC published a short list of the expected side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine including local pain, swelling and redness and flu symptoms such as chills, tiredness and headache.28
However, as I’ve recently written in “Side Effects and Data Gaps Raise Questions on COVID Vaccine,” it has also triggered anaphylactic reactions, chronic seizures and sudden death within hours or days (although health authorities deny there is any causal connection between the vaccine and the deaths).
The CDC reported that by December 18, 2020, of the 112,807 who had received the first dose, 3,150 had suffered one or more “health impact events,” defined as being “unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work, required care from doctor or health care professional.”29 This definition likely does not include local pain and swelling or chills and headache.
These Strategies Help Reduce Your Risk of Viral Infection
While new antivirals like thapsigargin continue to be studied, you have several options to help protect yourself from viruses and treat them if you should get infected. Consider the following strategies you can implement at home.
Supplement with vitamin D — Data from patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections have shown those with low levels of vitamin D have an increased risk of getting infected30 and experiencing a severe disease.31
In December 2020, a randomized, double-blind study32 demonstrated when critically ill patients with confirmed COVID-19 were given high doses of vitamin D it could significantly lower the number of days they spent in the intensive care unit and could reduce the need for ventilation.
A team of researchers did a mathematical reanalysis of raw data from an earlier trial and concluded there is a “strong role for vitamin D in reducing ICU admission of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”33
Past research has also demonstrated that “vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections.”34 In the study,35 the investigators found that while all participants benefited from supplementation, those with a significant deficiency gained the most.
Support your overall immune function — Vitamin D also plays a significant role in supporting your overall immune system. Additional strategies you can use include getting enough quality sleep, staying hydrated, reducing stress levels, eating whole food and optimizing your gut microbiome.
Get adequate vitamin C — As reported in a landmark review published in Nutrients, “Vitamin C’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects make it a potential therapeutic candidate, both for the prevention and amelioration of COVID-19 infection, and as an adjunctive therapy in the critical care of COVID-19.”36
Yet as Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine news service, presented at the Japanese Society for Orthomolecular Medicine,37 the importance of using vitamin C for disease treatment, including COVID-19, is being widely silenced using organized censorship.
Many health authorities and mainstream media have ignored, if not outright opposed, the use of vitamin C and other supplements in the treatment of COVID-19. However, the review published in Nutrients supports the use of vitamin C. As the scientists noted, vitamin C has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antithrombotic properties.
In response to this review the Alliance for Natural Health launched an international vitamin C campaign. Founder and scientific director Rob Verkerk, Ph.D., noted there are several reasons to take supplemental vitamin C:38
Take hydroxychloroquine, if your doctor will prescribe it, and zinc — This is another low-cost treatment that’s been maligned in the media but has proven effective in physician practices and studies. Hydroxychloroquine acts as a zinc ionophore,39 helping to move zinc into the cells where it can prevent the replication of viruses.
This is why it has such good results in shortening the common cold. As mentioned above, data from Raoult showed the combination with azithromycin led to the recovery of 91.7% of his patients within 10 days.40 Similar preventive and treatment benefits are available at home using quercetin and zinc, which you can read more about in “How to Improve Zinc Uptake with Quercetin.”
Ivermectin — As I discussed in “Can Ivermectin Help Prevent COVID-19 Deaths?” two states in India with high population rates are reporting41 the lowest and second-lowest fatality rates in all of India after having added ivermectin to their treatment protocols.
Clinical trials42 are underway to investigate the effectiveness demonstrated by the reduction in illness in India. One in-vitro study published in Antiviral Research43 showed a single treatment produced a 5,000-fold reduction in viral load measured at 48 hours in cell culture.
Nebulized hydrogen peroxide — My personal choice for treating upper respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is nebulized hydrogen peroxide. It’s a home remedy I recommend everyone familiarize themselves with, as in many cases it can improve symptoms in mere hours.
You can also use it as a preventive strategy if you know you’ve been exposed to someone who is ill. The recent events over the past year have aptly demonstrated how crucial it is for you to take control of your health. To read more about nebulized hydrogen peroxide and watch an interview with Dr. David Brownstein, see “How Nebulized Peroxide Helps Against Respiratory Infections.”