Drug repositioning: New approaches and future prospects for life-debilitating diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak

Zheng Yao Low, Isra Ahmad Farouk, Sunil Kumar Lal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Traditionally, drug discovery utilises a de novo design approach, which requires high cost and many years of drug development before it reaches the market. Novel drug development does not always account for orphan diseases, which have low demand and hence low-profit margins for drug developers. Recently, drug repositioning has gained recognition as an alternative approach that explores new avenues for pre-existing commercially approved or rejected drugs to treat diseases aside from the intended ones. Drug repositioning results in lower overall developmental expenses and risk assessments, as the efficacy and safety of the original drug have already been well accessed and approved by regulatory authorities. The greatest advantage of drug repositioning is that it breathes new life into the novel, rare, orphan, and resistant diseases, such as Cushing's syndrome, HIV infection, and pandemic outbreaks such as COVID-19. Repositioning existing drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, Ivermectin and Baricitinib shows good potential for COVID-19 treatment. This can crucially aid in resolving outbreaks in urgent times of need. This review discusses the past success in drug repositioning, the current technological advancement in the field, drug repositioning for personalised medicine and the ongoing research on newly emerging drugs under consideration for the COVID-19 treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1058
Number of pages24
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Drug personalisation
  • Drug repositioning
  • HIV
  • Novel diseases
  • Orphan diseases

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