This perspective considers the benefits of the potential future use of the cell permeant calpain inhibitor, calpeptin, as a drug to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Recent work has reported calpeptin's capacity to inhibit entry of the virus into cells. Elsewhere, several drugs, including calpeptin, were found to be able to inhibit extracellular vesicle (EV) biogenesis. Unsurprisingly, because of similarities between viral and EV release mechanisms, calpeptin has also been shown to inhibit viral egress. This approach, identifying calpeptin, through large-scale screening studies as a candidate drug to treat COVID-19, however, has not considered the longer term likely benefits of calpain inhibition, post-COVID-19. This perspective will reflect on the capacity of calpeptin for treating long COVID by inhibiting the overproduction of neutrophil extracellular traps potentially damaging lung cells and promoting clotting, together with limiting associated chronic inflammation, tissue damage and pulmonary fibrosis. It will also reflect on the tolerated and detrimental in vivo side-effects of calpain inhibition from various preclinical studies.
- COVID-19/drug therapy