Remdesivir, the drug with the most potential as a Covid-19 medication, is still under further investigations albeit being approved for emergency use. The trade name Veklury is officially declared by Gilead for the drug product.
A new take on its study will subject Remdesivir to be combined with another drug used for multiple sclerosis disease, and the effect of that on the Coronavirus will be determined. The National Institutes of Health released the news on August 5.
Interferon beta-1a, with the trademark name Rebif, is the multiple sclerosis drug that will be used for the study. It has been used for the said indication from 1996 to the present.
In a clinical trial that examined Interferon beta-1a, it showed almost similar results to remdesivir, reduction of mortality, and admission days, signifying faster recovery by a few days.
Interferons are naturally-occurring substances in the immune system that is emitted when a foreign cell invades the host cell. The interferon reacts to stray nucleic acids which usually indicate an oncoming viral infection. However, in the case of Covid, infected patients tend to exhibit lower levels of the said chemical.
The objective is to compensate the deficient interferon and at the same time, administer an antiviral drug and then see what happens. Around 1,000 admitted Covid patients globally will join the clinical trial. One group will be given the remdesivir and interferon beta-1a combination, and the other will receive remdesivir and placebo.
Interferon is not an exemption to adverse effects of flu-like symptoms and muscle pain that usually only manifest in long-term use.
Another potential remdesivir partner is the antirheumatic drug baricitinib, from the laboratories of Eli Lilly under the brand name Olumiant. Experts are still awaiting data, which won’t be available for the next month or so. If results are promising, then baricitinib will also undergo the same trial with interferon.
Results on the latter are expected within the next 2 months.