Gilead’s Remdesivir May Turn Out To Be A Saviour In The Battle Against The Coronavirus As Long As Antiviral-Resistance Does Not Occur.
Many healthcare professionals are pinning their hopes on Gilead
’s antiviral drug, Remdesivir
in the battle against the deadly Covid-19 coronavirus
which is fast spreading globally and already doing extensive damage in China.
While a few clinical studies are underway in China, the results from another new study has shown that it is also effective against the MERS coronavirus, sparking more hopes for it as a potential candidate to treat the new coronavirus.
According to a new study from National Institutes of Health, the experimental antiviral Remdesivir
successfully prevented disease in rhesus macaques infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
prevented disease when administered before infection and improved the condition of macaques when given after the animals already were infected.
The study findings from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The MERS coronavirus
is closely related to the new Covid-19 coronavirus
that has grown to be a global public health emergency since cases were first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
In past laboratory experiments, Remdesivir
had protected animals against a variety of viruses in lab experiments. The antiviral
drug has been shown experimentally to effectively treat monkeys infected with Ebola and Nipah viruses. Remdesivir
also has been investigated as a treatment for Ebola virus disease in people.
The recent research was conducted at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana. The work involved three groups of animals: those treated with remdesivir
24 hours before infection with MERS-CoV; those treated 12 hours after infection (close to the peak time for MERS-CoV replication in these animals); and untreated control animals.
The medical researchers observed the animals for six days. All control animals showed signs of respiratory disease. Animals treated before infection fared well: no signs of respiratory disease, significantly lower levels of virus replication in the lungs compared to control animals, and no lung damage. Animals treated after infection fared significantly better than the control animals: disease was less severe than in control animals, their lungs had lower levels of virus than the control animals, and the damage to the lungs was less severe.
The researchers indicate that the promising study results support additional clinical trials of remdesivir
for MERS-CoV and COVID-19
. Several clinical trials of Remdesivir
are under way in China, and other patients with COVID-19
have received the drug under a compassionate use protocol approved by the US FDA.
However Chinese doctors and researchers warn that it is still too early even if positive results are achieved from the first clinical trials currently underway as resistance might develop as in the case when they were using the protease inhibitor antivirals
Lopinavir/ritonavir along with alpha-interferon in the initial stages.
Furthermore, the possible of the coronavirus
mutating into something more potent should never be discounted as its already evolving with the emergence of a new subtype.
E de Wit et al
. Prophylactic and therapeutic remdesivir (GS-5734) treatment in the rhesus macaque model of MERS-CoV infection. PNAS