NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Vanderbilt investigators said a study continues to show promising signs of an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19 patients.
New research suggests remdesivir potentially inhibits SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, in human lung cell cultures. It also improved lung function in mice and suggested the drug can block the virus in a mouse model.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is participating in an international study of remdesivir. A trial in April showed patients receiving this drug recovered more quickly, an average of four days faster than those receiving placebo. Death rates were also proven to be lower in patients who received the drug with 8% compared to the placebo group of 11.5%.
VUMC said this study now proves why people were experiencing faster recovery times.
“All of the results with remdesivir have been very encouraging, even more so than we would have hoped, but it is still investigational, so it was important to directly demonstrate its activity against SARS-CoV-2 in the lab and in an animal model of disease,” VUMC’s Andrea Pruijssers, PhD, said.
Remdesivir is the only remaining drug with FDA authorization against COVID-19, after the agency pulled hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine from the mix.
The new study also suggests remdesivir is effective against a vast array of coronaviruses, including other bat viruses that could emerge in the future in humans.
“We hope that will never happen, but just as we were working to characterize remdesivir over the past six years to be ready for a virus like SARS-CoV-2, we are working and investing now to prepare for any future coronavirus,” antiviral scientist in the laboratory of Mark Denison said. “We want remdesivir and other drugs to be useful both now and in the future.”
This is the trial which VUMC is taking part in. There are 68 sites involved in the trial, including 47 from the United States and 21 in countries in Europe and Asia.
Those taking part in the trial are adult patients hospitalized with moderate to severe COVID-19. Patients in the study are given either 200mg of remdesivir or placebo on day one. This is followed by a 100 mg once-daily maintenance dose of remdesivir while hospitalized for up to 10 days.
Remdesivir was previously tested as a treatment for Ebola patients. VUMC said it's also been studied in animals as a treatment for SARS and MERS, both of which are caused by coronaviruses.
Funding for the trial comes from Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit.