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21/03/2020: Drugs and vaccines against COVID-19, the point on research by the Minister of Health of the Templar Nation Eric Oquinarena
The pandemic that has exploded due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread worldwide.
We are facing a real emergency and we must face the virus with a great war effort.
At the forefront are the biotechnology laboratories, which are working tirelessly to discover new weapons to treat the affected patients and to definitively eliminate contagion.
The European laboratories, which are among the best in the world, are hyperactive and we hope that they will soon get comforting results.
The number of people affected by the COVID-19 disease continues to rise and both states and international health organizations expect tens of millions of people to become infected.
A minority will develop serious forms that can lead to death.
Their numbers are starting to saturate the intensive care units in hospitals and medical supplies are in short supply.
States and international institutions are allocating a great deal of money to finance research and procure the necessary medical material.
Many factories are converting their production to meet the demands of masks, gloves, respirators, etc.
The European Commission is funding several projects for the development of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tools with the Horizon 2020 funding programs (45 million Euros) and the IMI2 – Innovative Medicines Initiative (90 million Euros) joint venture, who announced public subsidies of up to 45 million euros to finance studies on this disease last week.
IMI2 predicts that pharmaceutical companies will attract more money for a total investment of 90 million euros.
Fortunately, the solidarity machine was immediately activated.
International philanthropic foundations, such as the London foundation “Wellcome Trust” (founded in 1936 by the American pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome), the American foundation “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” (founded in 2000 by the spouses Gates), the Canadian foundation “Mastercard Foundation” (founded in 2006), have made available over USD 110 million to combat COVID-19.
No less important are the donations of major industrialists and personalities from the world of sport and entertainment and those of associations and ordinary people.
“Labiotech.eu”, the main digital media on the European biotechnology industry, is monitoring all research activities on treatments and vaccines to combat COVID-19.
London’s digital media group “Clinical Trials Arena” is in charge of the process of developing and researching drugs and vaccines to fight COVID-19, from conception to pre-FDA approval (Food and Drug Administration, the US government agency that deals with the regulation of food and pharmaceutical products).
The treatments being studied
Numerous companies are looking to develop new antiviral drugs or to adapt existing drugs to fight the new SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Antiviral drugs are difficult to develop because, unlike bacteria, viruses hide in our own cells.
In fact, a virus (from the Latin vīrus, -i, “poison”) is an acellular microorganism with obligatory parasite characteristics, as it replicates exclusively inside the cells of other organisms.
In addition, antiviral drugs cause numerous side effects.
Now let’s analyze the main pharmacological research.
– The French pharmaceutical industry “Iktos“, which has developed an innovative and easy-to-use technology platform for the manufacture of drugs, has recently started a collaboration with the American scientific research institute “SRI International” to develop new antiviral drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.
– The Austrian biotechnology company “Apeiron Biologics“, in collaboration with the Canadian “University of British Columbia“, is finishing testing the drug APN01.
– The “National Medical Products Administration of China” has approved the use of Favilavir, an antiviral drug; the drug has shown efficacy in treating the disease with minimal side effects in a clinical study involving 70 patients.
Clinical trials are underway in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
– The Canadian company “Algernon Pharmaceuticals” has announced tests of the drug NP-120 (Ifenprodil) as a potential Covid-19 treatment.
Ifenprodil is an N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NDMA) glutamate receptor antagonist
– The US company “Innovation Pharmaceuticals” is evaluating Brilacidine, a polymer-based antibiotic, which is part of a new class of antibiotics called defensin mimetics (host defense proteins or HDP mimetics, which are small synthetic molecules not peptides modeled on host defense peptides – HDP), as a potential treatment for coronavirus.
Brilacidine has shown antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties in numerous clinical studies.
– The US company “Bioxytra” has announced that it is exploring partners to develop its primary drug candidate, BX-25, as a treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in advanced stage patients infected with coronavirus.
BX-25 is designed to be 5,000 times smaller than blood cells and efficiently transport oxygen through the body for nine hours before being processed by the liver.
The drug can help supply oxygen to vital organs and allow the patient to recover and survive.
– The “German Primate Center – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research (DPZ)” in Göttingen (Germany) recently published a new study, which explains how the new coronavirus is able to “enter” cells to reproduce.
At the center of the situation is an enzyme, which could be inhibited by a drug, already clinically tested and used, which could block the infection.
The drug is called Camostat Mesylate, already approved in Japan in the treatment of certain inflammations affecting the pancreas.
The experimentation of this medicine is giving excellent results: in simple terms it would close the entrance door to the virus.
– An Ebola drug, developed by the US company “Gilead Sciences“, which has proven ineffective, is now being tested in two randomized phase III clinical trials in Asian countries.
Remdesivir appears to be able to block virus replication.
It has currently worked on several patients affected by Covid-19.
– China has approved the use of Tocilizumab by the Swiss company “F. Hoffmann – La Roche” for the treatment of serious complications related to coronavirus.
Tolicizumab is normally used in severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Drugs such as Tocilizumab have the ability to prevent cytokine storms or overreaction of the immune system, which is considered to be the main reason behind organ failure leading to death in some coronavirus patients.
Also for this drug there are several ongoing trials, one of the most advanced at the Cotugno Hospital in Naples.
– Antiviral drug Galidesivir (BCX4430), from the US pharmaceutical company “BioCryst Pharmaceuticals“, has shown broad spectrum activity against a wide range of pathogens including coronavirus.
It is a nucleoside RNA polymerase inhibitor that disrupts the viral replication process.
The drug has already shown survival benefits in patients against deadly viruses such as Ebola, Zika, Marburg and yellow fever.
– The US company “Cel-Sci Corporation” is developing immunotherapy against Covid-19 using its LEAPS peptide technology, which uses conserved areas of coronavirus proteins to generate T cell responses and reduce viral load.
The technology can also be used to develop immunotherapeutic peptides with antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Peptides developed using this technology can help reduce tissue damage caused by inflammation caused by lung infection, which is a major cause of mortality in elderly patients.
– The Canadian company “CytoDyn” is examining Leronlimab (PRO 140), a CCR5 antagonist, as a potential coronavirus drug.
The drug is already under study in phase two of the clinical trial as a treatment for HIV and has gained accelerated approval status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
– The US company “Regeneron Pharmaceuticals” has discovered the combination of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies REGN3048 and REGN3051 that are being studied against coronavirus infection in a first human clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ( NIAID) from the United States.
The safety and tolerability of the drug will be studied in 48 patients.
– Regeneron Pharmaceuticals also collaborated with the French company “Sanofi” to evaluate Kevzara, a fully human monoclonal antibody, in a phase two / three clinical trial in patients with severe COVID-19 infection.
Kevzara is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
– The US company “Lattice Biologics” is studying the effectiveness of its amniotic fluid concentrate, AmnioBoost, in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients.
AmnioBoost has been developed for chronic inflammatory conditions in adults such as osteoarthritis.
The drug has proven effective in reducing inflammatory conditions caused by various diseases including coronavirus.
It reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines while it increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
– The Japanese company “Takeda Pharmaceutical Company” has announced its intention to develop plasma-derived therapy against coronavirus.
Polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapy will be designed to treat high-risk patients.
– Among the cocktails of drugs already used in China and now also used in other hospitals there is the combination Lopinavir and Ritonavir.
These are antivirals prescribed in AIDS therapy.
The drug derived from the association of these two drugs is called Kaletra and is distributed by the US company “AbbVie“.
In these cases the administration is rather short, because the side effects are many.
– Another drug being tested is Hydroxychloroquine, normally used for malaria, by the French company Sanofi.
According to Professor Didier Raoult, director of the “Méditerranée Infection” university hospital in Marseille, 75% of the 24 patients treated with Plaquenil, one of the hydroxychloroquine-based drugs, no longer had a viral load.
Raoult also admitted that hydroxychloroquine has drug interaction problems with different treatments used in intensive care.
The vaccine hope
Vaccines represent the great hope for definitively defeating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
All over the world many companies are trying to quickly produce an effective vaccine.
– The Canadian company “Medicago” is developing candidate vaccines against COVID-19 after producing Coronavirus Virus-Like Particles (VLP).
The company has partnered with the “Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie (CRI)” of the French University of Laval to develop antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
The company’s research activities are partly funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).
– A Covid-19 intranasal vaccine is being developed by the US-based biopharmaceutical company, “Altimmune”.
The design and synthesis of the single-dose vaccine have been completed, while animal testing will follow.
The coronavirus vaccine was developed on the basis of a vaccine technology platform similar to NasoVAX, a flu vaccine developed by Altimmune.
– “Inovio Pharmaceuticals“, an American company, has collaborated with the Chinese company “Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Company” to promote the development of the old INO-4800 vaccine, as a new vaccine against coronavirus.
The company has launched pre-clinical tests for the production of clinical products.
Vaccine development is supported by a $ 9 million grant from the U.S. Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
– The “MIGAL Research Institute” in Israel has announced that an infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccine developed to treat avian coronavirus has been modified to treat Covid-19.
The vaccine has proven effective in preclinical studies conducted by the Israeli “Volcani Institute“.
– The US companies “Tonix Pharmaceuticals” and “Southern Research“, a non-profit research organization, to develop a coronavirus vaccine called TNX-1800.
The vaccine is a modified Horsepox virus developed using Tonix’s proprietary Horsepox vaccine platform.
– The Chinese “Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals” is developing a vaccine for recombinant subunits using its patented Trimer-Tag© technology.
The company is developing the vaccine based on the trimeric S protein (S-Trimer) of the Covid-19 coronavirus, which is responsible for binding to the host cell and causing a viral infection.
– The US company “Vaxart” is developing an oral recombinant vaccine in the tablet formulation using its proprietary oral vaccine platform, VAAST.
The company plans to develop vaccines based on the published SARS-CoV-2 genome for testing in preclinical models for immune responses of the mucosa and system.
– “LineaRx“, a subsidiary of the US company Applied DNA Sciences, and the Italian company “Takis Biotech” formed a joint-venture on February 7 to develop a linear DNA vaccine as a treatment for COVID-19.
– The Danish company “AJ Vaccines” has launched the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.
The company will use the latest technology to develop antigens capable of mimicking the native structures of the virus.
The vaccine will be able to induce a strong immune response in the body thus protecting against infection.
– “Heat Biologics”, a US company, has announced plans to develop a vaccine to treat or prevent coronavirus infection using its proprietary gp96 vaccine platform.
The technology is capable of reprogramming live cells to produce antigens that can bind to the gp96 protein and generate an immune response against these antigens
– Canadian “Generex Biotechnology” announced that it is developing a COVID-19 vaccine following a contract from a Chinese consortium made up of China Technology Exchange, Beijing Zhonghua Investment Fund Management, Biology Institute of Shandong Academy of Sciences and Sinotek- Advocates International Industry Development.
– The Canadian company “ImmunoPrecise Antibodies” has launched a vaccine and therapeutic antibody program to develop a vaccine and antibodies against Covid-19.
The company will use its B Cell Select ™ and DeepDisplay ™ discovery platforms for coronavirus therapeutic compounds.
– The “Serum Institute of India (SII)” is partnering with “Codagenix“, a US-based biopharmaceutical company, to develop a cure for coronavirus using a vaccine strain similar to the original virus.
The vaccine is currently in the preclinical testing phase, while human trials should begin in the next six months.
– The Indian company “Zydus Cadila” has announced the launch of an accelerated research program to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 using two new approaches.
The first approach includes the development of a DNA vaccine against the virus viral membrane protein, while a second vaccine will develop a live vaccine attenuated by the recombinant measles virus (rMV) virus.
The rMV-based vaccine works by inducing specific neutralizing antibodies, which will provide protection from coronavirus infection.
– The US companies “Moderna” and “National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)” have collaborated in the development of a vaccine called mRNA-1273.
The vaccine targets the coronavirus protein Spike (S).
Although the focus is on vaccines and drugs, the importance of diagnostics for Covid-19 cannot be overlooked.
There is strong global demand for rapidly identifying COVID-19 cases.
Their precision is essential for knowing and fighting the disease and its potential for contagiousness, morbidity or lethality.
In mid-February, the French diagnostic company “Novacyt” launched what it believes to be the first approved test to clinically detect the Covid-19 virus responsible.
This launch follows that of the same test intended only for research, at the end of January.
The company is now working on implementing the test in other jurisdictions.
British biotechnology company “Mologic” received a 1.1 million euro grant from the British government and the Wellcome Trust to fund the development of a portable diagnostic device that detects Covid-19 in ten minutes, without the need for a laboratory or electricity.
The company is also working on manufacturing this device in Africa to manage possible epidemics on this continent.
Other companies that develop tests for Covid include the German “Qiagen“, which distributed diagnostic tests for clinical evaluation as early as the end of February, the Finnish “Mobidiag“, which started to develop a thirty-minute clinical test for Covid- 19 in collaboration with the Chinese company “Autobio Diagnostics“.
While waiting for the drugs to work and vaccines to end this pandemic, the recommendations released by the WHO and all infected states remain important.
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