Covid-19: researchers have discovered a drug that could help us against new strains of the virus

If you've been keeping up with the news, you may know that remdesivir was the first drug to be approved to treat Sars-CoV-2 infection. But despite the optimism of the researchers, this drug has not really lived up to the merit it was given to get us out of this health crisis.

The hopes of researchers are therefore currently turning to another drug, an anticancer treatment that seems to be 30 times more powerful than Remdesivir. This drug, Plitidepsin, has been identified by a team of scientists looking for new therapies that can help us fight COVID-19, under the aegis of the USCF.

Covid-19: researchers have discovered a drug that could help us against new strains of the virus

Photo by Steve Buissinne. Pixabay credits

For information, the plitidepsin molecule, extracted from a sea creature called Aplidium albicans , was developed by the Spanish company Pharma Mar. In 2017, the use of this molecule was blocked by the European Union which claimed that the effects secondary outweighed the benefits. But a year later, the use of ptilidepsin was finally approved as a treatment for multiple myeloma.

Plitidepsin: effective against mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2

Plitidepsin has thus stood out among the thousands of drugs and experimental compounds tested in the laboratory by the team of researchers from the Quantitative Biosciences Institute at UCSF, in partnership with Mount Sinaï and the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

Last year, researchers indeed studied the mechanism of action of the coronavirus at a microscopic level once it invades a human cell. And according to UCSF molecular biologist Nevan Krogan, plitidepsin is by far the best weapon to fight COVID-19.

At extremely low doses, plitidepsin thus succeeded in eliminating the coronavirus in lung cells developed from human and monkey tissues, but also in mice infected with it. And unlike remdesivir and other drugs or vaccines, the molecule did not attack the virus, but blocked the activity of a specific protein inside cells (eEF1A), a protein essential for virus replication.

Great chances of success in our fight against COVID-19

Tested by these scientists in cooperation with a British laboratory, plitidepsin was also found to be effective against the British strain B. 1.1.7 of the virus and more effective than remdesivir. The team concludes that since the molecule targets the eEF1A protein, it would also be able to act against the different mutant variants of the virus , because it would be difficult for them to mutate without depending on this human protein.

According to Pharma Mar, there would also be no reason to worry about the side effects of plitidepsin, because unlike the treatment of cancers, the treatment of a SARS-CoV-2 infection requires only extremely low doses. of the molecule, to be taken for only three days instead of several weeks in a row. Moreover, so far, side effects have been minimal in the SARS-CoV-2 infected patients studied.

Plitidepsin therefore appears to be the key drug to end this pandemic. However, it will have to go through phase 3 trials in Spain and the United States before being approved to treat the COVID-19 infection.

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