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Covid-19 Antiviral Oral Drug Found Effective In Hamster Study

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MK-4482, the experimental antiviral drug for COVID-19, showed promise to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection in hamster study, according to the scientists of National Institutes of Health or NIH. The drug significantly decreased levels of virus and disease damage in the lungs of hamsters treated for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

MK-4482, delivered orally, is now in Phase 2 and 3 human clinical studies.

In comparison, antiviral drug Remdesivir, which is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use against COVID-19, must be provided intravenously, making its use primarily limited to clinical settings.

MK-4482 (also known as molnupiravir and EIDD-2801) was developed by Emory University's Drug Innovation Ventures group in Atlanta with funding support from NIAID to treat influenza.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics are now jointly developing and evaluating MK-4482 as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

In the study, the scientists found MK-4482 treatment effective when provided up to 12 hours before or 12 hours after infecting the hamsters with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

These data suggest that MK-4482 treatment potentially could lessen high-risk exposures to SARS-CoV-2. It might also be used to treat established SARS-CoV-2 infection alone or possibly in combination with other agents.

The study results were published in the journal Nature Communications. The University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom collaborated on the most recent studies.

NIH, the U.S. medical research agency, noted that the same research group developed the hamster model last year to mimic SARS-CoV-2 infection and mild disease in people. They are located at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton, Montana.

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