Remdesivir: A drug that may alleviate COVID-19

Updated on June 4th, 2020
Remdesivir for covid 19

Coronavirus is still making the world hard to breathe. However, there is a lot of positive news in terms of vaccines, with a few of them showing promising results. It is giving everyone hope that the coronavirus will ultimately be wiped out.

For the vaccines to be available to the public, it takes some time, maybe more or less than a year. Till then, the only hope is a treatment to alleviate the system and enrich the body’s ability to fight or be under continuous support until the virus leaves the body. For the same, doctors and researchers around the globe are finding new medications and drug combinations that could help the patients. 

Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine are two such medicines that doctors have been testing all around the globe. Of these both, Remdesivir is receiving some great positive responses. It is known to speed the recovery time of the patients suffering from coronavirus. The patients who were given Remdesivir had recovery within 11 days, compared to the placebo with a recovery of 15 days (1).

However, its benefits were slightly low in patients who were on mechanical ventilation (2). The drug also received emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration department. 

[ Read: Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine a Risk for COVID-19? ]

But, why and how does Remdesivir work?

Instead of focusing on developing drugs to treat symptoms, recent developments have been on antiviral abilities that could fight the novel coronavirus. Although it is more effective, developing it is also equally challenging. Because most such drugs can be effective initially, but as the viruses become more exposed, they could mutate and become resistant.

Unlike other infections or diseases, viral infections only start their process after reaching the host cell. So, these and many other factors are taken into consideration while developing or administering the drug to treat viruses, especially coronavirus.

Remdesivir belongs to the group of nucleoside analogue, one of the most significant classes of drugs. Currently, 30+ types of these drugs are used in treating various conditions, including cancers, viruses, parasites, and infections (bacterial and fungal). Not only these, but the potential benefits of the drug and effectiveness have made it one of the promising ones to use in clinical trials for various other conditions. 

The class of drugs is known to be highly effective because it resembles nucleoside, a naturally occurring molecule (3). These molecules are the building blocks for DNA and RNA, both of which play critical roles in various biological processes. Here, with a slight difference in the chemical structure, the drug can prevent the replication and survival ability of viruses in the body. It, in turn, restricts or inhibits the virus’s ability to infect more cells in the body and slowly paves the path to recovery. 

The drug Remdesivir is known to exhibit direct antiviral action against the coronavirus, which does so by blocking the coronavirus’s RNA polymerase. Here, when the virus grabs the drug’s molecule, it inhibits or prevents the replication of the virus. 

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The drug also works differently than the other standard ones. It is a type of prodrug, which means it is modified in the body to become active, often after reaching the site of action. 

Remdesivir also belongs to a group of broad-spectrum drugs, meaning it could fight multiple microorganisms. The drug was originally created to treat hepatitis C but did not meet the expectations. Later, lab studies of this drug showed it had potential antiviral properties against coronaviruses, filoviruses, pseudoviruses, and paramyxoviruses. 

Conclusion:

As the cases are growing every day, the pressure on doctors, scientists, and researchers is also increasing. As we all know, the time for the vaccine is not quite near; the only best option that most of us see is treating the coronavirus.

While the general treatment for coronavirus is focused on alleviating symptoms and improving the immune system, Remdesivir is a type of drug that can help fight the virus directly. Once studied properly with accurate clinical results, the drug can become a part of cocktails that can be administered to treat the novel coronavirus.

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