Gilead’s experimental remdesivir shows promise against coronaviruses. Can it beat back COVID-19

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Targeted drug development takes years, but when time is short in a pandemic, scientists and clinicians turn to pharmaceuticals that have been used to treat other diseases. …

The results of a randomized trial of lopinavir-ritonavir in 199 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, that were published this week (March 18) revealed no benefit in terms of time to clinical improvement in the patients who received the drug combo versus a placebo. The findings are consistent with a study published in January this year that showed a combination of lopinavir-ritonavir and interferon beta did not reduce lung injury a mouse model of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)… .

In that same study, remdesivir was much better at inhibiting the coronavirus that causes MERS in cell culture and improving respiratory symptoms in the animals, indicating that it may be a better option for treating SARS-CoV-2. …

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There are three ongoing COVID-19 clinical trials at locations across China and the United States for remdesivir, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical company Gilead. Doctors in the US have also treated patients with the drug under the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use policy, and—while it’s not clear that it was because of remdesivir treatment—at least one patient recovered.

Remdesivir has shown promise disabling coronaviruses in the lab, too.

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