Phase 3 trials conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine for Remdesivir, Gilead’s Coronavirus treatment, have been pronounced a success after the majority of patients with severe disease recovered within a week.
Remdesivir was developed in 2014 by Gilead Sciences as a treatment for Ebola and Marburg viruses, but it was soon apparent that it could be used for any single strand coronavirus.
In February the University of Alberta published findings that Remdesivir could inhibit replication of the MERS virus, and in April they published research showing it could inhibit the replication of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2).
The results were published in a paper entitled “Remdesivir is a direct-acting antiviral that inhibits RNA-dependent RNA polymerase from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 with high potency” (1).
On Thursday 16th April 2002, the news broke that the University of Chicago Medicine had found that most of the Covid-19 patients treated with drug showed “Rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory systems”. The Phase 3 trial involved 125 patients of whom 113 had severe cases of Coronavirus, but after being given daily infusions of Remdisivir, the majority were discharged within a week (2)
The virus targets the replication of the virus by targeting the replicase enzyme, also called RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP). This stops the virus from being copied.
The polymerase enzyme picks up the Remdesivir and incorporates it into the new RNA strand. Game over.
Several Hospitals (for example, the University of Nebraska Medical Center), are currently participating in a double-blind study amongst COVID-19 positive patients and co-ordinated by the National Institutes of Health. Early results like those of University of Chicago look extremely promising.