BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The drug Remdesivir is now being used to treat certain coronavirus patients in China. Researchers developed the investigational drug at UAB’s Antiviral Drug Discovery and Development Center.
"Those studies are what we call placebo controlled. So some patients get drugged and then other patients just get an inactive medication,” Dr. Whitley, a distinguished professor at UAB and principal investigator of the U19 grant said.
UAB was recently awarded a nearly $40 million, five-year-grant to study and develop treatment for emerging infections like coronaviruses that can cause SARS, MERS and the COVID-19 which is the new strain that caused the outbreak in China.
Dr. Whitley tells us studies are also beginning in the U.S. Early results from the drug being used in China should be back sometime in April. Whitley says if it’s successful and safe for people to take then full production could begin.
"If it is, then we’ll have a theoretical solution to disease in the United States. It will be a question of producing enough drug so if Americans have disease at the frequency that they did in China or now south Korea or Italy, we’ll have enough drug for all Americans,” Whitley added.
This drug could eventually be used to help fight the flu. UAB is also working on a coronavirus vaccine, but doctors say that won’t be available for about a year.
You can learn more about the research here.