Gilead Science the drug-making company that made the coronavirus treatment drug remdesivir, last week decided on new trials for the drug remdesivir. Another compound from the company called GS-441524 is now going to be tested against remdesivir in animal trials.
The compound in question has been in use for years as a treatment for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) even though it had been licensed to be used for something else. For this Gilead, sciences received much criticism.
Now another biotech company based in California is entering the race to develop a successful antiviral drug. Anivive Lifesciences is taking a unique approach to the making of their new drug, their taking inspiration from cats.
Their research has sufficient preclinical research data to back their project up.
Previously research led by a team of scientists of the University of Alberta discovered that a drug if developed to treat COVID-19 caused FIP, inevitably inhibited the major protease of both strains SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. This means that these human coronaviruses henceforth were rendered unable to replicate in cell cultures. The team also reported its findings in the journal Nature Communications.
To put things in perspective Anivive originally licensed a drug called GC376 from the Kansas State University in the year 2018. Since then they began working on the substance to make it into an antiviral that can be used as a treatment for FIP.
FIP is an actual progressive illness in cats; the disease is caused by a coronavirus strain and can be deadly if left untreated. In the light of some studies, Anivive decided last month to begin two preclinical studies in an attempt to find out whether the substance could also prove beneficial as a coronavirus treatment drug.
The drug GC376 was originally designed in such a way that it was able to inhibit a protease known as 3C. This protease is what promotes the multiplication of various coronavirus strains that can infect both animals and people. These strains include strains like the feline coronavirus (FCoV), when cats become infected with this virus they experience mild symptoms at first but can later develop FIP which can be deadly.
In two pilot studies for the drug, pet cats suffering from FIP were given the drug and they were able to tolerate the drug well and it proved effective against the illness within two weeks. Currently, Anivive is preparing to increase the production of the drug so that larger studies involving cats can take place.
In the new study, the University of Alberta’s research team tested GC376 and also tested the drug it originated from GC373, for how successful they were in inhibiting the 3C protease. They discovered however that both drugs were successful in blocking viral replication.
Although the authors understand that the vaccine for coronavirus may be closer to be being discovered than it was months ago but they insist that antiviral drugs are still useful in the meantime. In the study, they wrote that the virus mutates at a very rapid rate and some patients harbor the virus in their bodies longer than others and some are still at the risk of reinfection.
- Joanne Lemieux, Ph.D., is a professor of structural biology at the University of Alberta. In an interview, he explained that GC376 should be advanced into human trials at once because it already has a good track record with its abilities in veterinary medicine.
He emphasizes that the drug has also displayed little to no toxicity and has so far passed preclinical stages therefore it may have the potential for more such as to be a coronavirus treatment drug.