Scientists of Australia and US have developed a new Antiviral COVID-19 therapy that has 99.9 efficacy. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 that has been the cause of deaths of millions of people across the world, scientists have come together to form new vaccines. So far vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have showed remarkable efficacy but no vaccine has shown the efficacy as promising as the new antiviral drug.
In a new development, a team of scientists from Australia and the US have created an experimental antiviral therapy drug that they claim can reduce the viral load of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by 99.9% and can potentially transform into widely used treatment against the infection. It should be noted that the drug is not yet approved for emergency used by the prominent healthcare bodies across the world.
So far, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, Zanamivir and Remdesivir are shown to reduce the symptoms of COVID-19 and help with a faster recovery.
How does the new antiviral drug work?
According to reports, the new antiviral therapy uses what’s technically called gene-silencing RNA technology called siRNA (small-interfering RNA). This gene-silencing technology directly attacks the genome of the virus and stops it from replicating further, thus nipping it in the bud.
The antiviral drug therapy uses the one if its kind lipid nanoparticles to deliver the siRNA to the human lungs which are primarily attacked by the virus. These nanoparticles are designed at the Griffith University, an Australia based research university & City of Hope National Medical Center, a California based research center.
Professor Nigel McMillan, the co-lead researcher from Menzies Health Institute at Griffith University said-
“Treatment with virus-specific siRNA reduces viral load by 99.9 per cent. These stealth nanoparticles can be delivered to a wide range of lung cells and silence viral genes.”
How did the research take place?
According to the paper published in the Molecular Therapy journal, the therapy when tested on a SARS-CoV-2 infected mice showed significantly improved survival chances. The findings also stated that in the treated subjects there was no trace of virus which as detected in the lungs.
So, is the anti-viral therapy a cure for COVID-19?
No. The lead researcher McMillian has said that the therapy is “not a cure”. However, he also said that the therapy can decrease the amount of virus load in the lungs to 99.9 % and thus, it is “as good as cure”.
Who is this therapy intended for?
“It is really for those people who are suffering for example in ICU, where vaccines are too late. It allows us to treat those people who are suffering from the virus who are very sick, or those who may perhaps be in danger of being exposed to the virus, such as those in hotel quarantine,”
-said professor McMillian.
This could be beneficial for countries like India where vaccination is slow due to such high population and other Centre announced vaccination policies that are debated.
How will the antiviral drug be administered?
The drug will be administered to a person through injection. It would be used daily for patients that are in ICU for multiple days. Further, for those who are recently exposed to the virus, a single injection can be used.
Is this therapy effective against the newer strains of the virus?
According to co-lead researcher, the treatment is designed to work on all the betacoronaviruses like the original SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. The co-lead researcher, Professor Morris said, “Any new variants that may arise in the future because it targets ultra-conserved regions in the virus’s genome,” Professor Morris said. He also said that the nanoparticles that are specially designed are stable at two spectrums of conditions – at 4 degrees Celsius for 12 months and room temperature for more than a month. This means that the nanoparticles can be used in places that have low-resource settings.
When will this new therapy be available?
As clinical trials and their subsequent data is still not completely revealed, the treatment could be available by 2023. This depends on the data of what the clinical trials show. The lead researcher of the project also said-
“Remember this virus is not going away — we are going to be living with it forever now.”