Coronavirus: the remedy that worked in two infected patients

After being tested on a coronavirus patient in the United States, a clinical trial at the University of Nebraska is trying to determine if the antiviral called remdesivir – originally developed against Ebola – could be one of the keys to stopping the current COVID-19 pandemic.

"The day after applying the drug, the patient improved consistently," she told the magazine. Science, George Thompson, a doctor at the University of California, about a patient whose remdesivir saved his life, in Sacramento

"A decade ago, a group of chemists made a compound that they called 3a simply and, in laboratory experiments, killed several different viruses. One was a type of coronavirus, ”explained Andrew Joseph in an article for Stat.

What is remdesivir

Then remdesivir, a descendant of that molecule, received a more complex name, (GS-5734) in the company that develops it -Gilead- the same that, with the Truvada combination (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil), presented the first therapy that can prevent the spread of HIV, known as PrEP.

While remdesivir started as a treatment for Ebola and the Margurgo virus, it also showed action against the respiratory syncytial virus, Junín, Lassa fever and some coronaviruses, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

“There are currently five clinical trials of remdesivir for COVID-19: two are being conducted in China; in the United States, one is sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH); and the other two are in the hands of Gilead in different countries, "summarized the article by Stat.

Today, its use against Nipah, Hendra, and COVID-19 viruses is being studied in five laboratory tests worldwide, but the University of Nebraska is the most advanced.

In search of a medication against COVID-19

China first became interested; in the United States, remdesivir saved the woman's life in Sacramnto and appears to have been crucial in a 35-year-old man in Washington. Now, the outcome of the trial is expected at the University of Nebraska. "At the moment there are no approved therapies for coronavirus infections, and remdesivir is the most advanced in the development process," recalled the article in the journal Stat.

Also, Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization (WHO)he said last month: "Right now there is only one drug that we think can have real efficacy: remdesivir."

The second successful case

The other case of COVID-19, in which the use of remdesivir appears to have been critical, occurred in January at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington state: in this case, it was used in a 35-year-old man. years he had just visited Wuhan and presented with some symptoms including fever and cough.

"Treatment with intravenous remdesivir started on the night of day seven and no adverse events were observed", wrote the medical team in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The next day, the man began to improve.

Specialists say that, if the drug is successful in trials, it would be used especially in patients with more severe symptoms or hospitalized, that is, between 15% and 20% of cases.

Although remdesivir is the option with the most advances in the face of this pandemic to this day, there are also other therapeutic responses under study. For example, there is a team of virologists from UNC-Vanderbilt and another from Emory working on three compounds, now identified as NHC, EIDD-2801, and EIDD-1931. In addition, the Regeneron company is working on an alternative.