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Infectious disease

Emory-discovered antiviral is poised for COVID-19 clinical trials

The nucleoside inhibitor has advantages over Gilead’s remdesivir but has yet to be tested in humans

by Lisa M. Jarvis
March 26, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 12



A small-molecule antiviral discovered by Emory University chemists could soon start human testing against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. That’s the plan of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which licensed the compound, EIDD-2801, from an Emory nonprofit.

EIDD-2801 works similarly to Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, an unapproved drug that was developed for the Ebola virus and is being studied in five Phase III trials against COVID-19. Both molecules are nucleoside analogs that metabolize into an active form that blocks RNA polymerase, an essential component of viral replication.

But remdesivir can only be given intravenously, meaning it would be difficult to deploy widely. In contrast, EIDD-2801 can be taken in pill form, says Mark Denison, a coronavirus expert and director of the infectious diseases division at Vanderbilt Medical School. Denison partnered with Emory and researchers at the University of North Carolina to test the compound against coronaviruses.

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EIDD-2801 has other promising features. Many antivirals work by introducing errors into the viral genome, but, unlike other viruses, coronaviruses can fix some mistakes. In lab experiments, EIDD-2801 “was able to overcome the coronavirus proofreading function,” Denison says.

He also notes that while remdesivir and EIDD-2801 both block RNA polymerase, they appear to do it in different ways, meaning they could be complementary.

Unlike remdesivir, EIDD-2801 lacks human safety data. Ridgeback founder and CEO Wendy Holman says she expects the US Food and Drug Administration to give the green light for a Phase I study in COVID-19 infections within “weeks, not months.”



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Tom Czick (March 27, 2020 2:36 PM)
I’m glad we have the best research university working on it. Go Emory!!! Find the cure!!
Hamid (March 27, 2020 5:16 PM)
Dear researchers. We wish you a big success in this work. In continuing of investigation I can give you a some advices to reach a better results. Please don't hesitate to contact with me. Thank you. It is for our all safety medicines.
Fazli (March 28, 2020 1:44 AM)
Good wishes for your work, my suggestion is Remdesivir will work better than EIDD. Try to change formulate it in a solid dosage form if possible.
Kanvar (March 28, 2020 12:14 PM)
Can we destroy covid 19 by changing the chemical structure of genetic material . This may be done through organic or synthetic chemicals
Joseph Bobko (March 28, 2020 11:55 PM)
So I have Asthma and 3 heart stents and an artificial right knee. If I were to contract covid 19 would your
Drug company be willing to provide my physician with your anti viral medicine on a compassionate basis
Abdallah (March 30, 2020 12:04 PM)
Good news I hope you can make clinical trials as soon as possible good wishes for your works
Catie (April 1, 2020 2:37 AM)
EIDD-2801 will be way better than chloroquine, and it will be a lot safer for everyone!
James (April 3, 2020 8:03 PM)
Have any similar pharmaceuticals that incorporate oximes onto a nucleoside been approved in the past? In any case, I would be concerned about the toxicity of this compound to humans.
Kanda Ramasamy (April 5, 2020 9:13 PM)
Ribavirin was the first nucleoside drug that got approval for RSV in 1980 from Dr. Roland Robins Lab and latter it became a golden standard for HCV. I hope EIDD-2801 will be next wonder drug that the world is waiting for. Cheers!!!!!
WIL W (April 7, 2020 10:54 AM)
Given the current global race to COVID-19 therapeutics and supportive regulatory/political environment here in the US, expedited request/petition for an EIND with CDER)/DAV ought to be considered... Borrowing one of the favorite presidential phrase: "What the Heck Do You Have to Lose"!
BECKY CUNNINGHAM (April 8, 2020 7:03 PM)
May God bless the work of your hands and find something to stop this monster that is killing so many people 🙏
Michael Pirrung (April 28, 2020 8:25 PM)
It isn't clear that remdesivir could only be given IV, and even if so, that wouldn't be as large an issue as made out here, at least for patients in the ICU. Other uses, such as prophylaxis in health care workers, would be better if not IV. In preclinical work the drug has been administered by subcutaneous injection.

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