Remdesivir: What to know about potential coronavirus treatment

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As the world scrambles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the experimental antiviral remdesivir is being eyed as a potential treatment.

In a press conference Thursday, President Donald Trump and FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn described several approaches under testing, such as chloroquine, a drug long used to treat malaria, and remdesivir, which is being tried in at least five separate experiments.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, recently began a clinical trial of remdesivir to treat COVID-19. The project at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha is the first clinical trial in the U.S. to evaluate an experimental treatment for the infectious disease.

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The first trial participant was described by the NIH as an American who was repatriated after being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan, earlier this year. The American volunteered to participate in the study, according to officials.

Developed by Gilead Sciences, remdesivir is described as an “investigational broad-spectrum antiviral treatment.” Previously, remdesivir was used to treat humans with Ebola. It had also shown promise in animal models for treating Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according to the NIH.

On Feb. 26, Gilead Sciences announced the start of two Phase 3 clinical studies to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of remdesivir to treat adults diagnosed with COVID-19. “These randomized, open-label, multicenter studies will enroll approximately 1,000 patients at medical centers primarily across Asian countries, as well as other countries globally with high numbers of diagnosed cases, beginning in March,” Gilead said. “The studies will assess two dosing durations of remdesivir, administered intravenously.”

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Other research into remdesivir includes two clinical trials in China’s Hubei province, Gilead Sciences said. Results from the studies in China are expected in April.

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As of Thursday afternoon, at least 236,384 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, 10,755 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 9,790 around the world, including 154 people in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers