Referring to the findings of a new study, the researchers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Thursday that they have found a promising new treatment for COVID-19 after an experimental oral antiviral drug demonstrated the ability to prevent the coronavirus from replicating, according to CNBC.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, said the antiviral candidate called TEMPOL could reduce coronavirus infection by impairing a specific enzyme the virus needs to replicate once it invades the human cells, potentially limiting the severity of the disease.
TEMPOL was tested in an experiment of cell cultures with live viruses, per the news outlet.
Geneticist Dr. Diana Bianchi, Director, NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, wrote in a statement, “We urgently need additional effective, accessible treatments for COVID-19. An oral drug that prevents SARS-CoV-2 from replicating would be an important tool for reducing the severity of the disease.”
Undeniably, vaccines have been found extremely effective in preventing COVID-19 cases in the United States as well as other nations of the world, but experts say we still need treatments for those who catch the infection.
Even after the high vaccination rate, the United States is still reporting over 16,000 infections per day as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Gilead Sciences’ Veklury (remdesivir) is the only FDA-approved drug for the treatment of COVID-19, which needs to be administered intravenously in a hospital setting.
Meanwhile, Pfizer is also working on the development of an at-home oral drug that can treat mild COVID-19 illness. In April, the company announced that it is working to launch an experimental oral drug to treat COVID-19 at its onset by the end of 2021.
Experts hope Pfizer’s experimental drug will keep the disease from progressing and prevent hospitalization. The company started early-stage trials in March.
The NIH scientists now plan to conduct additional preliminary studies. They also plan to seek opportunities to evaluate the experimental oral drug in clinical studies of COVID-19.
The lead author of the study Dr. Tracey Rouault said the early findings were “hopeful.” She is also an NIH researcher.
“However,” she added, “clinical studies are needed to determine if the drug is effective in patients, particularly early in the disease course when the virus begins to replicate.” The article was published on CNBC.