Molecule Derived From Poisonous Plant Blocks All SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Cell Cultures

A plant-based antiviral treatment for Covid-19, recently discovered by scientists at the University of Nottingham, has been found to be just as effective at treating all variants of the virus SARS-CoV-2, even the highly infectious Delta variant.

The struggle to control the Covid-19 pandemic is made more difficult by the continual emergence of virulent SARS-CoV-2 variants, which are either more infectious, cause more severe infection, or both.

In a new study published in Virulencea group of scientists, led by Professor Kin-Chow Chang from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University, found that the Delta variant, compared with other recent variants, showed the highest ability to multiply in cells, and was most able to directly spread to neighbouring cells. In co-infections with two different SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Delta variant also boosted the multiplication of its co-infected partners.

The study also showed that a novel natural antiviral drug called thapsigargin (TG), recently discovered by the same group of scientists to block other viruses, including the original SARS-CoV-2, was just as effective at treating all of the newer SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Delta variant.

In their previous studies* the team showed that the plant-derived antiviral, at small doses, triggers a highly effective broad-spectrum host-centred antiviral innate immune response against three major types of human respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

In this latest study, the team set out to find out how well the emergent Alpha, Beta and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 are able to multiply in cells relative to each other as single variant infections and in co-infections– where cells are infected with two variants at the same time. The team also wanted to know just how effective TG was at blocking these emergent variants. Notably, all SARS-CoV-2 variants were highly susceptible to TG treatment. A single pre-infection priming dose of TG effectively blocked all single-variant infections and every co-infection at greater than 95% relative to controls. Likewise, TG was effective in inhibiting each variant during active infection.

Source: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/

The Drugmaker Merck Says Its Antiviral Pill Is Effective Against Coronavirus

The drug maker says its pill was shown in a clinical trial to cut the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus in half. Australia is accelerating plans to ease international travel restrictions for its citizens and permanent residents.

The drug maker Merck said on Friday that it would seek authorization for the first antiviral pill for Covid after its drug, known as molnupiravir, was shown in a clinical trial to cut the risk of hospitalization or death in half when given to high-risk people early in their infections.

The treatment could become the first in a wave of antiviral pill products, which experts say could offer a powerful new tool in efforts to tame the pandemic, as they could reach more people than the antibody treatments that are being widely used in the United States for similar patients.

I think it will translate into many thousands of lives being saved worldwide, where there’s less access to monoclonal antibodies, and in this country, too,” said Dr. Robert Shafer, an infectious disease specialist and expert on antiviral therapy at Stanford University.

Late-stage study results of two other antiviral pills, one developed by Pfizer and the other by Atea Pharmaceuticals and Roche, are expected within the next few months.

The Merck drug, which is designed to stop the coronavirus from replicating, is to be taken as four capsules twice a day for five days.

Merck said an independent board of experts monitoring its study data had recommended that its trial be stopped early because the drug’s benefit to patients had proved so convincing. The company said that the Food and Drug Administration had agreed with that decision.

For the research, the monitors looked at data through early August, when the study had enrolled 775 volunteers in the United States and overseas. For volunteers who received the drug, their risk of being hospitalized or dying fell 50 percent, without any concerning side effects, compared with those who received placebo pills, Merck said in a news release announcing the findings.

Seven percent of volunteers in the group that received the drug were hospitalized, and none of them died, compared with a 14 percent rate of hospitalization and death — including eight deaths — in the group that received the placebo.

The Merck pill’s efficacy was lower than that of monoclonal antibody treatments, which mimic antibodies that the immune system generates naturally when fighting the virus. Those drugs have been in high demand recently, but they are expensive, are typically given intravenously, and have proved cumbersome and labor-intensive for hospitals and clinics to administer. Studies have shown that they reduce hospitalizations and deaths 70 to 85 percent in similar high-risk Covid patients.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/

Indian Antiviral Receives Emergency Authorisation for COVID-19 Treatment

Zydus Cadila said that its antiviral Virafin has been given emergency use authorisation by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for treatment against coronavirus. The pharma company said that a single dose of the antiviral administered subcutaneously early on shows significant clinical and virological improvement in patients with moderate coronavirus. It stated that 91.15 per cent of patients who were treated with the antiviral were RT-PCR negative by Day 7. The treatment also reduces hours of supplemental oxygen in patients.

The company said that when administered early on during COVID-19, the Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b (PegIFN) Virafin will help patients recover faster and avoid many complications. The antiviral will be available on the prescription of medical specialists for use in hospital/institutional setups. A multicentric trial was conducted in 20-25 centres across the nation that showed that with Virafin, patients required less supplemental oxygen. The company said that the trials indicate that the antiviral is able to control respiratory distress and failure that has been one of the biggest challenges in treating coronavirus. The drug also showed efficacy against other viral infections.

The fact that we are able to offer a therapy which significantly reduces viral load when given early on can help in better disease management. It comes at a much-needed time for patients and we will continue to provide them access to critical therapies in this battle against COVID-19,“, said Dr. Sharvil Patel, Managing Director, Cadila Healthcare.

During the Phase III clinical trials, patients administered with the drug were RT-PCR negative by Day 7. “The drug ensures faster viral clearance and has several add-on advantages compared to other antiviral agents,” said the company.

Source: https://www.businesstoday.in/