Gilead Sciences, Inc. is an American biotechnology company that researches, develops, and commercializes drugs, focusing on antiviral medications used in the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and influenza. During the Ebola crisis, the company developed a drug to restrain the epidemic: Remdesivir. The same drug seems to be effective in curing the virus that causes the latest health global crisis, SARS-like pneumonia known as the Wuhan virus.
The drug was administered to a 35 old American patient infected with the virus. He is the first case of human administration of Remdesivir intravenous treatment. The medics considered the benefits of the administration to prevail in the possible counter effect, and the patient gave his informed consent. Within a day, the symptoms subsided, and no side effects were observed.
In collaboration with Chinese medical authorities, Gilead provided Remdesivir for a small number of patients. The process is considered to be a study, as the effects – both in safety and efficacity – are not entirely known.
What is Remdesivir, the possible cure against the Wuhan virus?
Remdesivir is an antiviral drug, a novel nucleotide analog prodrug. It was intended to become the cure for Ebola, but laboratory tests proved it to be a treatment for any origin of coronavirus, either human or animal.
Nucleotide analogs can be used in drugs to prevent viral replication in infected cells. They act as chain terminators and stop viral DNA polymerase. They have side effects, such as bone marrow suppression.
A prodrug is a medication or compound that is converted within a pharmacologically active drug. This reduces the adverse or unintended effects of the drug. Remdesivir was not approved yet, nor licensed, and it is used now for compassionate grounds. The company is trying to get the drug into the next phase of appropriate experimental use, and it seems it is not the only antiviral that is being considered a possible cure for the Coronavirus.