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In researching remdesivir, Emory University helping forge new weapons in COVID-19 fight

COVID-19 Metro ATL

In researching remdesivir, Emory University helping forge new weapons in COVID-19 fight

Dr. Aneesh Mehta. Photo provided by Emory University.
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Atlanta, GA – Emory University played a key role in testing a drug that could be a turning point in the fight against COVID-19.

The drug, remdesivir, was created by Gilead Sciences Inc. Reuters reports that the drug was previously developed to treat Ebola, but the Reuters report describes it as a “failed” treatment for that virus. However, it has proven more successful against COVID-19. The drug works by shutting down the coronavirus’ ability to copy itself, Reuters reported. For the full story, click here.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, described the drug as a potential game-changer.

“The data shows remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recover,” Fauci said. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”

Emory University played a significant role in the clinical trial of the drug, enrolling more patients than any other site in the world.

“The randomized, controlled trial involved 1,063 patients and began on February 21,” Emory University said in a press release. “The trial is known as the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial, or ACTT, and sponsored by the NIAID. A total of 68 sites joined the study — 47 in the United States and 21 in countries in Europe and Asia. Emory and its affiliated hospitals enrolled 103 patients, more than any other institution in the world. The Emory team was led by Drs. Aneesh Mehta and Nadine Rouphael, both of the Division of Infectious Diseases.”

Mehta said he was pleased with the results.

“We are extremely happy that the work of this team contributed not only to the advancement of scientific knowledge, but also to the helping many of our patients recover more quickly and return home to their families,” Mehta said in the press release.

In a press release about the results of the Phase 3 trial of the antiviral drug, Gilead Sciences said patients who received remdesivir early in their treatment had better results.

“In an exploratory analysis, patients in the study who received remdesivir within 10 days of symptom onset had improved outcomes compared with those treated after more than 10 days of symptoms,” the company said. “Pooling data across treatment arms, by Day 14, 62 percent of patients treated early were able to be discharged from the hospital, compared with 49 percent of patients who were treated late.”

All of this positive news comes with an important caveat. NBC News notes, “Remdesivir is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and has not been proven as an effective treatment for patients with the coronavirus. Results from other trials are expected in the coming weeks.”

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