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Archived news – SARS-CoV-2 treatment development

Old Drugs May Find a New Purpose: Fighting the Coronavirus (April 30) – Driven by the pandemic’s spread, research teams have been screening thousands of drugs to see if they have this unexpected potential to fight the coronavirus. They’ve tested the drugs on dishes of cells, and a few dozen candidates have made the first cut.

Hopes rise for coronavirus drug remdesivir (April 29) – Remdesivir interferes with the replication of some viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for the current pandemic. A clinical trial in more than 1,000 people showed that those taking remdesivir recovered in 11 days on average, compared with 15 days for those on a placebo. Also on 29 April, a smaller trial run in China announced that it had found1 no benefits from remdesivir when compared with a placebo. But that trial was stopped early owing to difficulty in enrolling participants as the outbreak subsided in China.

New Gilead remdesivir data likely enough for speedy FDA approval (April 29) – While no data have yet been revealed, the news “confirms positive results that met the efficacy endpoint (improved time to recovery)” in a very large test (as it has more than 1,000 patients).

STAT COVID-19 Drugs & Vaccines tracker (April 27) – A guide to some of the most talked-about efforts to treat or prevent coronavirus infection, with details on the science, history, and timeline for each endeavor. This tracker tracks novel medicines, not repurposed drugs.

New data on Gilead’s remdesivir, released by accident, show no benefit for coronavirus patients. Company still sees reason for hope (April 23) – The antiviral medicine remdesivir from Gilead Sciences failed to speed the improvement of patients with Covid-19 or prevent them from dying, according to results from a long-awaited clinical trial conducted in China. Gilead, however, said the data suggest a “potential benefit.” A summary of the study results was inadvertently posted to the website of the World Health Organization and seen by STAT on Thursday, but then removed.

Two studies have some good news and bad news for potential coronavirus treatments (April 11) – New studies on hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir.

Structure of Mpro from COVID-19 virus and discovery of its inhibitors (April 9) – In order to identify new drug leads that target the COVID-19 virus main protease (Mpro) combined structure-assisted drug design, virtual drug screening and high-throughput screening was applied to identify new drug leads. This paper discusses a mechanism-based inhibitor, N3, identified by computer-aided drug design and the crystal structure of COVID-19 virus Mpro in complex with this compound. Mpro is a key CoV enzyme, which plays a pivotal role in mediating viral replication and transcription, making it an attractive drug target for this virus.

‘No miraculous recovery’: Some ICU doctors say hydroxychloroquine isn’t helping sickest patients (April 8) – Many doctors suspect that if the drug does turn out to be beneficial, it may work better early on in the course of the illness.

Roche Accelerates Phase III Actemra Trial in COVID-19 (April 8) – Actemra/RoActemra (tocilizumab), an anti-IL-6 receptor biologic currently approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is being evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III trial in collaboration with BARDA, for safety and efficacy in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia compared to placebo plus standard of care.

Drug repurposing in SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19: preventing the maladaptive immune response leading to critical disease requirement ICU care (April 8) – This blog post by Robert Plenge discusses the repurposing of anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent a cytokine storm, as the immune system is critical in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 infection – download a PDF of the blog post.

Gilead To Donate 1.5M Doses Of Experimental Coronavirus Treatment: ‘The Right Thing To Do’ (April 5) – Gilead donates 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, its investigational drug for COVID-19, for compassionate use, expanded access and clinical trials. The doses are intended for patients with severe symptoms who will receive them intravenously on a daily basis in a hospital setting which could amount to more than 140,000 treatment courses in COVID-19 patients, depending on the duration of treatment. Remdesivir was first developed by Gilead as a potential treatment for the Ebola and Marburg viruses. Multiple clinical trials for the drug are underway in COVID-19 with thousands of patients worldwide participating.

World’s largest trial of potential coronavirus treatments rolled out across the UK (April 3) – A number of promising treatments are being tested and, if the science supports it, will be given to NHS patients as quickly as possible. Definitive results on whether the treatments are safe and effective are expected within months and, if positive, they could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Almost 1,000 patients from 132 different hospitals have been already recruited in just 15 days and thousands more are expected to join the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial in the coming weeks, making it the largest randomised controlled trial of potential COVID-19 treatments in the world.

Amgen teams up with Adaptive to both treat and prevent COVID-19 (April 2) – The goal of this collaboration is to develop fully human neutralizing antibodies targeting the COVID-19-causing virus, SARS-CoV-2.

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.

Gilead asks FDA to take back lucrative orphan drug status on possible coronavirus treatment (March 25)

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.

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