by: Agencies – December 6, 2020, 03:16
– Scientists say MK-4482 / EIDD-2801 or molnupiravir is the first orally available drug to block SARS-CoV-2 rapidly and could be innovative.
CORONAVIRUS.- Since the start of the pandemic, the global community of health scientists and researchers has focused on discovering new treatment options or vaccines that can kill SARS-CoV-2 or reuse old drugs to treat and cure an infection without major side effects. .
In June 2020, a study in Oxford showed that the steroid drug dexamethasone could help treat severe COVID-19 patients, and in November, researchers even evaluated hepatitis C medications for their effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2. .
However, despite these advances, the search for a highly effective drug that could act against SARS-CoV-2 from the very onset of COVID-19 infection has had limited results.
How the SARS-CoV-2 flu drug works
The turning point may be the results of a new study published in Nature Microbiology. The study, published by researchers at Georgia State University Institute of Biomedical Sciences, reveals that a new antiviral drug has been designed that effectively suppresses the SARS-CoV-2 virus and inhibits viral transmission within 24 hours.
Scientists say MK-4482 / EIDD-2801 or molnupiravir is the first orally available drug to block SARS-CoV-2 rapidly and could be innovative. Molnupiravir is being developed by the biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Merck.
The researchers reported in the study that they had developed an orally administered ribonucleoside analog inhibitor that works against influenza viruses and, seeing its effectiveness, decided to re-target the drug to SARS-CoV-2. The drug, molnupiravir, is currently in phase II / III clinical trials but has been shown to be effective against the virus in ferrets.
The researchers revealed that they chose to test the drug in ferrets rather than mice or guinea pigs, because the presentation of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets is similar to that of young adult humans. This means that ferrets are also at a higher risk of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID-19 infection, during which they transmit the disease very quickly to other ferrets.
This similarity gave scientists the opportunity to estimate how drug administration could effectively control the spread of COVID-19. The researchers then vaccinated the ferrets with SARS-CoV-2 and observed their peak viral load in the upper respiratory tract on day three after vaccination.
The quick action of molnupiraviru
Treatment of ferrets with molnupiravir (administered twice daily) showed very promising results. When dosing was started within 12 hours after the viral load peaked and the infection began to spread, the infectious particle became undetectable within 24 hours after starting treatment.
When the first dose of molnupiravir was given 36 hours after viral load peaked and excretion began, the drug was able to completely inhibit infectious virion release within 36 hours. This indicates not only that the drug works in ferrets with SARS-CoV-2 viral infection, but also that it works faster when given as soon as possible.
It was because of these promising findings that the researchers concluded that oral administration of the drug molnupiravir could have three potential benefits:
• It can stop the progression of the infection and prevent serious illness and adverse effects.
• It can shorten the overall duration of infection, which in turn can alleviate the physical, emotional, and socioeconomic costs of the disease for patients, especially in isolation.
• It can quickly control local outbreaks if administered to populations with high transmissibility.
Therefore, while more clinical trials need to be conducted before this new oral antiviral drug can be released for public use, the results of this study offer new hope for effective suppression of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.