An oral medicine was able to hinder the coronavirus behind COVID-19 as it attempted to replicate itself in human lung cells in test tubes, scientists reported [April 6]. It also hampered closely related coronaviruses from reproducing in mice for several days and improved their lung functions.
The drug, called EIDD-2801, interferes with a key mechanism that allows the SARS-CoV-2 virus to reproduce in high numbers and cause infections, the researchers explained in the journal Science Translational Medicine. [I]f the effect is similar in people, the drug would be the first pill available to help with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more than 1.3 million cases and about 76,400 deaths worldwide. An oral medication would be a boon, because it would be easier to give to more people than an intravenous injection.
… A company that has licensed the drug, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, has just been granted permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin 10 patient trials of the antiviral pill in the next few months.
In addition to planning clinical trials in the U.S., Ridgeback has also asked U.K. authorities to start tests there as well. “We’ve done three to four years of development work in just the past three to four weeks in response to the new pandemic,” [said Wayne Holman, Ridgeback co-founder.]