Dec 10, 2020 06:43 AM EST
A new oral drug, Monulparivir, completely suppresses COVID-19 transmission within 24 hours, according to a study published in the journal of Nature Microbiology.
The team of researchers tested the new oral drug's ability to inhibit the coronavirus spread in ferrets. Dr. Robert Cox, a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia State and a co-lead author, said they believed that ferrets are a relevant transmission model as they could also spread SARS-CoV-2. However, most of the ferrets did not develop severe disease, which more likely resembles COVID-19 spread in young adults.
Daily Mail reported that six ferrets were infected with COVID-19 by the researchers and treated three of the ferrets with Monulparivir when they started shedding the virus from their noses. The team then took 12 uninfected ferrets and two each housed in a cage with one infected animal.
Every day, the ferrets were tested for eight days, and none of them in the cages with treated animals contracted the coronavirus. But on day four, all of the ferrets caged with those not treated by the new oral drug became sick.
With the cases continuing to surge across the United States, stopping the community transmission of the COVID-19 will be the key to curb the pandemic until COVID-19 vaccines become widely available.
Dr. Richard Plemper, a professor at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State, noted that Monulparivir has broad-spectrum activity in fighting respiratory RNA viruses as well as treating infected animals through the oral drug that lowers the amount of shed viral particles, dramatically reducing the transmission.
He added that "these properties made the new oral drug a powerful candidate for pharmacologic control of COVID-19."
The new oral medication prevents the virus from multiplying itself, preventing it from spreading throughout the body. The drug blocked ferrets infected with the coronavirus from transmitting the disease to other animals, but those were not given the medication to spread the disease, researchers found.
The Georgia State University team of researchers claim that COVID-19 patients given with Monulparivir could be non-infectious within a day if the data is translated to humans. "This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission," said Dr. Plemper.
The drug innovation company Emory University in Atlanta discovered the oral antiviral drug, Monulparivir. Initially, the new oral medication was meant to cure influenza and prevent the virus from making copies by creating errors during viral RNA replication. Monulparivir can prevent and decrease severe lung damage in mice infected with COVID-19, as per the April 2020 study.
The new oral drug is now in phase II/II trials, wherein it is tested at three various doses every 12 hours within five days in COVID-19 human patients. However, the data is not expected to be ready until at least May 2021.
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