With efforts underway to find treatments for COVID-19 patients at the hospital, Ridgeback therapeutics are doing things differently.
By the looks of it, COVID-19 does not seem to slow down anytime soon. Thousands of fresh cases are being reported every day, and hospitals are flooded around the world. Most of the pharmaceutical companies are right now focused on finding a treatment for hospitalized patients, in a way that makes sense. After all, they are the most severely affected patients. But Miami based Ridgeback biotherapeutics are currently working differently.
Currently, the company is kicking off its phase 2 trial for an antiviral that can serve as a treatment for both hospitalized patients and freshly diagnosed patients who are staying at home. The underway antiviral- EIDD-2801 is first being tested on hospitalized COVID-19 patients and the second with cases at home.
What is EIDD-2801?
Although doctors and scientists around the world are testing out a variety of existing drugs to fight COVID-19, EIDD-2801, an oral antiviral drug stands apart.
The drug can be used as both prophylactic and a therapeutic against the COVID-19 virus. It is a nucleoside analog that shows broad spectrum activity against RNA viruses, which includes the current coronavirus, COVID-19 and previous virus MERS and SARS.
EIDD-2801 attacks RNA dependent RNA polymerase the same way as Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir, a previously FDA-appointed drug for emergency use. But unlike remdesivir which is administered intravenously, EIDD-2801 can be taken orally.
Since the convenience of taking EIDD-2801 orally, patients could take it at home rather than risking themselves and others by coming to the hospital. By this, the drug is taken at the earlier stages of the infection, potentially killing the virus before it causes havoc on the body.
EIDD-2801 is completely safe and effective and has a rather intriguing feature of being highly resistant. Usually drugs alert the viruses to quickly mutate that aren’t affected by the drug, making it incompetent. But EID-2801 when tested hasn’t prompted any such resistance.
“We always worry about resistance,” says Andy Mehle, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Though drug resistance is inevitable, sometimes the viruses work on changing so much to overcome a drug’s effects that they cripple. Alternatively, resistance may seem as a simple change, the changes occur with a difficulty of the virus’s ability to multiply. Experts speculate this might be the case with EIDD-2801.
What’s next for Ridgeback?
Though the first set of clinical studies are just beginning, Ridgeback is confident about the drug and is currently gearing up to manufacture hundreds of thousands of doses of the drug. In the near future the company is planning to ramp up the production to millions.
“While we still need to wait and see the intended efficacy of the drug as ridgeback believes it to be, it is imperative to have a backup of immediate and ample supply to the world, once the clinical trials are successful” stated Wendy Holman, CEO and co-founder of Ridgeback.