UNC-Chapel Hill scientists hopeful new anti-viral drug can treat COVID-19


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill are helping develop a drug that has shown to reduce lung damage in mice infected with viruses related to COVID-19.

The drug, called EIDD-2801, has finished testing in mice and is headed to human clinical trials.

The scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health are working with researchers from Vanderbilt and Emory univiersities.

The drug was discovered at the Emory Institute for Drug Development, or EIDD.

Distinguished Professor of epidemiology Ralph Baric said EIDD-2801 has potential to be used to treat diseases beyond COVID-19.

“This new drug not only has high potential for treating COVID-19 patients, but also appears effective for the treatment of other serious coronavirus infections,” said senior author Baric.

The team’s results were published online Monday by the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“The paper includes data from cultured human lung cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, as well as mice infected with the related coronaviruses SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV,” UNC-CH said in a release.

EIDD-2801 can be taken as a pill.

“When given as a treatment 12 or 24 hours after infection has begun, EIDD-2801 can reduce the degree of lung damage and weight loss in mice. This window of opportunity is expected to be longer in humans, because the period between coronavirus disease onset and death is generally extended in humans compared to mice,” UNC-CH’s release said.

Clinical studies of EIDD-2801 in humans are expected to begin later this spring.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in NC

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