Inhaled and systemic heparin as a repurposed direct antiviral drug for prevention and treatment of COVID-19

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  • Carina Conzelmann, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Janis A. Müller, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Lukas Perkhofer, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Konstantin M.J. Sparrer, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Alexander N. Zelikin
  • Jan Münch, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Alexander Kleger, Ulm University

Here, we advocate a highly favourable opportunity for the treatment of COVID-19 disease by repurposing a long-serving medical agent with an excellent history of clinical use, namely heparin. Heparin is best known as an anticoagulant, but it also exhibits direct antiviral activity against many enveloped viruses and has anti-inflammatory activity. The high incidence of thromboembolic events in COVID-19 patients suggests that coagulopathy plays an important role in the SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. This already makes heparin a unique, potentially curative agent that can be used immediately to help resolve the ongoing crisis associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease. We demonstrate here in vitro that heparin does indeed inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection. The three concurrent modes of activity of heparin (antiviral, anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory) against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 form a unique therapeutic combination. Thus, repurposing of heparin to fight SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 appears to be a powerful, readily available measure to address the current pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Medicine
Pages (from-to)e218-e221
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, heparin, Inhalation, pulmonary coagulation, SARS-CoV-2

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ID: 201599566