An experimental peptide could block Covid-19 (March 27) – MIT chemists are testing a protein fragment that may inhibit coronaviruses’ ability to enter human lung cells.
‘This is insane!’ Many scientists lament Trump’s embrace of risky malaria drugs for coronavirus (March 26) – Many scientists have criticized the French trial as riddled with enough methodological flaws to render its findings unreliable or misleading. Biostatisticians from the United Kingdom and Ireland cited a basic failure: Investigators didn’t randomize the groups – essential to ensuring dependable comparisons. They also noted that six of the treated patients were lost to the study, five of whom fared badly—one died, three entered intensive care, and one stopped treatment because of nausea. Yet they were dropped from the analysis, potentially skewing the outcome. Among the immediate consequences: Shortages of the drug are endangering patients who need it for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
WHO launches global megatrial of the four most promising coronavirus treatments (March 22) – The large global trial is called SOLIDARITY. When a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 is deemed eligible, the physician can enter the patient’s data into a WHO website, including any underlying condition that could change the course of the disease, such as diabetes or HIV infection. The participant has to sign an informed consent form that is scanned and sent to WHO electronically. After the physician states which drugs are available at his or her hospital, the website will randomize the patient to one of the drugs available or to the local standard care for COVID-19. The design is not double-blind, the gold standard in medical research, so there could be placebo effects from patients knowing they received a candidate drug. But WHO says it had to balance scientific rigor against speed.
As the coronavirus spreads, a drug that once raised the world’s hopes is given a second shot (March 16) – Remdesivir, in the spotlight as scientists and governments scramble to find a treatment for the disease, took a circuitous route to center stage. Born as a general antiviral candidate, researchers threw it at an array of viruses and saw where it stuck. For years, Gilead was primarily focused on ushering remdesivir into trials and toward approval for a different kind of infection: Ebola. Remdesivir is now being tested in five Covid-19 clinical trials that have been set up at breakneck speed.
NIH clinical trial of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 begins (Feb 25) – Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., is an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral treatment. It was previously tested in humans with Ebola virus disease and has shown promise in animal models for treating Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which are caused by other coronaviruses. Clinicians will regularly monitor participants and will assign them daily scores based on a predefined scale of clinical outcomes that considers factors such as temperature, blood pressure and use of supplemental oxygen, among others. Participants also will be asked to provide blood samples and nose and throat swabs approximately every two days. Researchers will test these specimens for SARS-CoV-2.