Experimental COVID Drug May Be Preventive and Therapeutic

(Reuters) – An experimental drug designed to be sprayed into the nose has shown the potential to both prevent infection and treat COVID-19, at least for some variants of the coronavirus, according to a study in mice.

The drug, called N-0385, inhibited entry of the virus into cells in the mice when administered before infection. When given up to 12 hours after infection, it prevented the mice from becoming seriously ill, researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York reported in Nature.

N-0385 is a small molecule that inhibits an enzyme called TMPRSS2. Some variants of the coronavirus – but not Omicron – use TMPRSS2 and the ACE2 protein on cell surfaces to fuse themselves to the cell membrane and inject their genetic material inside.

N-0385, which would be given in only a few daily doses, “is simpler and less expensive to mass produce than other types of COVID-19 treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies,” study leader Hector Aguilar-Carreno said in a statement.

The current study tested the drug against the original version of the virus and the Delta variant, but not against Omicron.

California-based EBVIA Therapeutics Inc said it is raising funds for human trials, drug development, formulation and mass production of N-0385. If clinical trials confirm its safety and efficacy, giving N-0385 in combination with other antiviral drugs could help reduce the risk of mutations that allow the virus to resist treatment, the research team said.

SOURCE: https://go.nature.com/3ITiJqm Nature, online March 28, 2022.

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