A joint project of scientists from Australia and the US develop the first-ever antiviral treatment that targets the Novel Coronavirus. The new medication eliminates 99.9% of the virus and halts its spread in the body. Until now, no known COVID-19 treatment has been developed; generic antiviral medications like zanamivir and remdesivir are able to slow down the spread of the virus only partially.
The researchers believe that the novel treatment will be especially helpful for those patients who require urgent medical care, as well as those at risk of developing complications. Read on to learn more about this new antiviral treatment and how it works.
The first antiviral medication that targets COVID-19
According to research published on May 13, 2021, in the journal Molecular Technology, a team of scientists from the Menzies Health Institute in Queensland, Australia, and the US City of Hope Institute has developed an antiviral treatment capable of eliminating 99.9 percent of the Novel Coronavirus. The therapy uses a gene-silencing RNA technology that destroys SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as other known coronaviruses, such as the SARS and the MERS viruses that caused outbreaks in 2002–2004 and 2012, respectively.
The medication targets the genome of the virus directly and stops it from replicating. According to Professor Nigel McMillan, from Griffith University, the lead researcher of the study, "It causes the genome to be destroyed and the virus can't grow anymore — so we inject the nanoparticles and they go and find the virus and destroy it just like a heat-seeking missile." He also notes that “Normal human cells are completely unharmed by this treatment."
Who will benefit from this treatment?
The researchers say that those who are suffering from COVID-19, especially patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), as well as those exposed to the virus can take advantage of the treatment. Since the medication stops the replication of the virus almost completely, this will allow the body to repair and recover more quickly. Professor McMillan states that early treatment, ”should be able to eliminate people dying from this disease,” which is really exciting.
According to their early estimations, those treated in the ICU would require 4-5 daily injections of the medication to make a full recovery, whereas those who were recently exposed to the virus would only need one injection to ensure that they’re free of the virus.
What else should I know about this novel treatment?
One last meaningful feature of the new medication is that it’s stable at 4°C (39°F) for 12 months, and at room temperature for over a month, which means that it’s easy to transport and treat infected patients in low-resource locations. At this point, the antiviral medication has passed animal trials, but it is yet to go through phase one, two, and three clinical trials in humans.
For that reason, the researchers estimate that it will most likely only be available in 2023. Considering that it’s the first existing treatment of COVID-19, we hope that it will be available sooner.
Please share this information with others