On April 2, 2020, worldwide we reached 1 million cases of COVID-19, the new disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Now we’ve got almost 1,5 million of people who have fallen ill and approximately 90,000 have died.
At Pratia with the leading network of clinical trial centers, we are closely interested in the research on the new coronavirus and the ways of dealing with it by constantly looking for new sources of reliable information.
- An international team led by the researcher Dr. Josef Penninger from the Canadian University of British Columbia has seen promising results from a trial drug capable of blocking the cellular doors typically exploited by SARS-CoV-2 to infect multiple human organs. Previously Penninger and scientists from the University of Vienna and the University of Toronto identified ACE2, an enzyme that attaches to the outer surface of cells in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidney, and intestines. ACE2 is also the key receptor for SARS-CoV-1, considered as a global viral respiratory threat back in 2003, which is closely related to the present SARS-CoV-2. To test their hypothesis, they used infected engineered replicas of human blood vessels and kidneys, organoids growth from human stem cells. They observed that the virus was able to replicate directly in those tissues and following this discovery, they used a trial drug known as APN01 which is human recombinant soluble angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hrACE2) in an attempt to prevent such replication. Ultimately the researchers found that the drug managed to inhibit significantly the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in these tissues.
- Despite the very advanced work on the vaccine mRNA-1273 by ModernaRX Inc., other researchers are also looking for a new vaccine candidate to protect against SARS-CoV-2. The scientists from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, are working on the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 trial. This is a vaccine based on an adenovirus vaccine vector and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the trial is already underway. The scientists from Oxford’s Jenner Institute have chosen an adenovirus vaccine vector as the most suitable vaccine technology as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose and as it is not a replicating virus, it cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual. Their researchers announced last week that they have started screening healthy volunteers in anticipation of first dose administration. This trial will provide valuable information on the safety aspects of the vaccine as well as its ability to generate an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2.
- Recently, the FDA has cleared the way for Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to begin the human testing of a promising potential treatment for COVID-19. Scientists are reporting that the results of their drug known as EIDD-2801 (rybonucleoside analog β-D-N4-hydroxycytidine) are promising. The drug works by interfering with the coronavirus ability to make copies of itself once it infects the cell. EIDD-2801 has one major advantage over remdesivir (the drug in the trial by Gilead Sciences) – it can be taken orally as a pill, whereas remdesivir must be given intravenously. Collaborators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Emory Institute for Drug Development tested EIDD-2801 in both mice and cultured human lung cells infected with various coronaviruses. According to them, this drug can be used as a therapeutic or prophylactic, where it can potentially prevent severe lung damage as it displayed in the infected mice. EIDD-2801 also showed the ability to reduce the viral load and weight loss in mice when given as a treatment between 12 and 48 hours after the infection began.
We at Pratia are interested in sharing reliable information that could help us, our patients and partners in the fight against COVID-19! In our sites we are maintaining operations to proceed with medical innovation, re-evaluating the model we work with and putting significant attention to the safety of our patients, employees, clients and our families.
- Zhang, Haibo, et al. “Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a SARS-CoV-2 Receptor: Molecular Mechanisms and Potential Therapeutic Target.” Intensive Care Medicine, vol. 46, no. 4, 2020, pp. 586–590., doi:10.1007/s00134-020-05985-9.