The COVID-19 pandemic has seen researchers and scientists urgently call for efficient and safe antiviral treatments to prevent and protect against the virus. A drug has been studied extensively with researchers claiming to shown be effective at preventing COVID-19.
“We were optimistic that we would see the same results against the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said Matthias Götte, chair of medical microbiology and immunology at U of A.
“We obtained almost identical results as we reported previously with MERS, so we see that remdesivir is a very potent inhibitor for coronavirus polymerases.
“If you target the polymerase, the virus cannot spread, so it’s a very logical target for treatment.
“These coronavirus polymerases are sloppy, and they get fooled, so the inhibitor gets incorporated many times and the virus can no longer replicate.”
Polymerase is any of several enzymes which catalyse the formation of DNA or RNA from precursor substances in the presence of pre-existing DNA or RNA acting as a template.
According to numerous studies, remdesivir is a very potent inhibitor for coronavirus polymerases, demonstrating its potential for combatting COVID-19.
Remdesivir is one of several drugs being fast-tracked into trials by the World Health Organization, comparing potential treatments in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a dozen countries.
Götte said it is disappointing that antivirals discovered at the time of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, which might have been effective against COVID-19 too, were never translated into widely available treatments, largely because of the huge cost involved in developing new drugs.
“This time around it’s obvious that we have to cross the finish line,” he added.
“Ten billion dollars, it seems a lot, a huge amount.
“But in the context of this pandemic and the costs associated with this pandemic, it’s nothing.”