Coronavirus is wreaking havoc, but a few good firms are stepping up to wage war against Covid-19. The answers might not come quickly or easily, but a commitment has been made from governments, agencies, investors, and organizations to do their part. Here are four biotech companies that have sworn to not go gently into that good night and are working on treatments to counter the virus.
There are still many unknowns, but biotech firm Gilead has introduced antiviral Remdesivir as a potential treatment for Covid-19. It's been called the "most promising candidate therapy" by the World Health Organization, and 750 Chinese patients are enrolled in the first clinical trial. Information regarding results will start flowing within the following weeks, but it's a promising option because it's already proven to be safe for people. Remdesivir came about in 2009 as Gilead was working on therapies for hepatitis C, respiratory syncytial virus, and Ebola. More information on the efficacy of Remdesivir is expected in April.
However, biotech Moderna isn’t lagging far behind Gilead and recently announced they expect human trials to begin in as little time as a few weeks. The National Institute of Health teamed up with the firm to create a vaccine using the current coronavirus strain. The serum was created in 42 days following the release of the genetic sequence of Covid-19 and relies on messenger RNA (or mRNA) to instruct cells on how to make protein.
"We said… that it would take two to three months to have it in the first human,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee at a hearing on the nation’s preparedness for the outbreak. “I think we’re going to do better than that.”
Sanofi and Regeneron are coming at the Coronavirus problem from a different angle. They have teamed up to explore whether a drug, Kevzara, already on the market to treat rheumatoid arthritis might be a viable option to reduce damage to the lungs and respiratory system caused by the immune system’s overreaction to Covid-19. The goal isn’t to cure the illness – it’s to manage symptoms that create long-term problems. Additionally, Chinese researchers used a similar drug to treat a small sample of acutely ill patients, which showed some promising results. The drug-makers also plan to start clinical trials within a week or two.
Pharma-giant GlaxoSmithKline is also entering the coronavirus-curing fray with its new partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The first goal is to create a vaccine and, secondly, mass-produce it quickly enough to make accessible. The initiative relies on GSK’s adjuvant system, a process that enhances the body’s immune response to create a robust protection against infection. It’s forecasted that a version could be available for clinical trials as soon as three months.