35 drugs in the race to treat new coronavirus

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) The world is scrambling to find a vaccine to treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19) as new cases keep emerging, a survey by Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) has revealed that 35 active drug development programmes are currently on in North America, Europe and China.

Big pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi to small biotechs such as Moderna and Gilead Sciences are in the race but the researchers worldwide feel a vaccine to treat COVID-19 is at least 12 month away.

Gilead has already begun clinical trials in China after peer-reviewed journals showed that its antiviral candidate, remdesivir, had positive results in a case involving a US patient and Chinese in vitro tests.

Global bio-pharmaceutical company Takeda said this week it has initiated development of a plasma-derived therapy for new coronavirus (COVID-19) and produce the therapy termed as “TAK-888”.

Hyper immune globulins are plasma derived-therapies that have previously been shown to be effective in the treatment of severe acute viral respiratory infections and may be a treatment option for COVID-19.

As a leader in plasma-derived therapies with more than 75 years of experience in the development of plasma-derived products, Takeda has the expertise to research, develop, and manufacture a potential therapy, referring to as “TAK-888,” the company said.

Researchers have also found a drug called camostat mesylate, that they believe may work to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has claimed over 3,000 lives globally, majority of them in China, the virus’s country of origin.

Camostat mesilate is a drug approved in Japan for use in pancreatic inflammation.

“We have tested SARS-CoV-2 isolated from a patient and found that camostat mesilate blocks entry of the virus into lung cells,” said the study’s lead author Markus Hoffmann.

According to the GEN survey, another example is Pirfenidone – an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug marketed by Roche and its Genentech subsidiary as Esbriet.

The drug would be studied in patients with severe and critical COVID-19, under a planned randomized, open-label clinical trial that has been prospectively registered by Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College, part of Huazhong Science and Technology University.

The US National Institute of Health (NIH) has announced that it will run the first US clinical trial evaluating an experimental treatment for COVID-19, by assessing remdesivir in patients at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where some Americans with the disease are being cared for or are under quarantine.

Remdesivir showed “no adverse events” when administered to the first American confirmed to be infected with the new virus, in a case study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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