"Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections," said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study.
The study, led in the UK by Professor Anthony Gordon from Imperial College London with collaborators from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre, found that patients receiving intensive care who were treated with a regular fixed dose of the steroid hydrocortisone for seven days had a better chance of recovery, compared with the patients who were not treated with the steroid.
"In just two months, our results have shown that the drug is effective at inhibiting viral replication in cells with SARS-CoV-2," said Joanne Lemieux, a professor of biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.
Using the National Drug Discovery Centre, researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute identified drug-like compounds that could block a key coronavirus protein called PLpro. This protein, found in all coronaviruses, is essential for the virus to hijack and multiply within human cells, and disable their anti-viral defences.