Hopes For New Covid-19 Treatment After Promising Antiviral Drug Development

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Hopes For New Covid-19 Treatment After Promising Antiviral Drug Development
Scientists found PharmaMar’s myeloma drug plitidepsin, derived from sea squirts, might be a more potent anti-COVID-19 drug than Gilead's remdesivir. (Quantitative Biosciences Institute)

Hopes For New Covid-19 Treatment After Promising Antiviral Drug Development.

The discovery of a new drug has raised hopes of a breakthrough in treatment for the most severe cases of Covid-19 after trials of an existing blood cancer drug found it was up to 100 times more effective against the virus than redeliver, a similar class of ‘antiviral’ drug that is currently being used by the NHS.

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Researchers cautioned that most of the experiments were conducted on mice and human cells in the lab – rather than in people going about their everyday lives – meaning much more research is needed to confirm the drug’s promise, although they did said it was an exciting breakthrough that could save many lives.

The way that antiviral drugs work is by stopping the infection process by disabling dangerous parts of the viruses proteins. Researchers tested Aplidin, also known as Plitdepsin, a treatment approved for the multiple myeloma blood cancer in Australia that was developed by Spanish company Pharma Mar.


In the laboratory process, Aplidin is extracted from Aplidium Albicans, a sea squirt found off the coast of Spain.

In trials, the drug was found to be between 10 and 100 times more effective at tackling Covid, including the new UK variant, than Remdesivir – and at least ten times more potent at stopping people with the virus from passing it on, according to research by University College London, published on the ‘pre-print’ website bioRxiv ahead of peer-reviews.


 


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