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New oral drug inhibits Covid-19 within 24 hours in ferret model: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 04, 2020 Published on December 04, 2020

First demonstration of an oral drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission; ‘could be game-changing’

New anti-viral oral drug, MK-4482/EIDD-2801 or Molnupiravir, successfully inhibits the SARS-CoV-2 virus within 24 hours of starting the treatment, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University.

The group led by Dr Richard Plemper, Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State, earlier found that the drug is potent against influenza viruses.

“This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission. MK-4482/EIDD-2801 could be game-changing,” said Plemper.

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The researchers noted that because the drug can be taken orally, treatment can be started early for a potentially three-fold benefit: inhibit patients’ progress to severe disease, shorten the infectious phase to ease the emotional and socio-economic toll of prolonged patient isolation, and rapidly silence local outbreaks.

“We noted early on that MK-4482/EIDD-2801 has broad-spectrum activity against respiratory RNA viruses and that treating infected animals by mouth with the drug lowers the amount of viral shedding by several orders of magnitude, dramatically reducing transmission,” said Plemper.

He added: “These properties made MK-4482/EIDD/2801 a powerful candidate for pharmacologic control of Covid-19.”

The study, published in Nature Microbiology, involved a ferret model to test the efficacy of the drug against SARS-CoV-2.

“We believe ferrets are a relevant transmission model because they readily spread SARS-CoV-2, but mostly do not develop severe disease, which closely resembles SARS-CoV-2 spread in young adults,” said Dr Robert Cox, a postdoctoral fellow in the Plemper group and a co-lead author of the study.

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The researchers said that if these ferret-based data translate to humans, Covid-19 patients treated with the drug could become non-infectious within 24 hours after the beginning of treatment.

MK-4482/EIDD-2801 is currently in advanced phase II/III clinical trials against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Published on December 04, 2020
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