A local resident returning from travel registers with an official at the entry gate of a residential neighborhood in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.(Bloomberg)
A local resident returning from travel registers with an official at the entry gate of a residential neighborhood in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.(Bloomberg)

Top Chinese lab files patent for US drug to fight Coronavirus cases

The research led by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) found that two drugs - remdesivir and the generic chloroquine - could inhibit or check the Coronavirus.
Hindustan Times, Beijing | By Sutirtho Patranobis
UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2020 10:38 PM IST

Researchers from a key Chinese lab have applied to patent a US-made drug they found to be effective in pre-clinical tests in treating the novel Coronavirus.

The research led by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) found that two drugs - remdesivir and the generic chloroquine - could inhibit or check the Coronavirus.

The WIV, as reported by HT earlier, is the only institute in China to have a bio-safety level 4 laboratory, a lab, which is equipped to deal with the deadliest pathogens in the world including Ebola and the Coronavirus family.

Researchers from top Chinese institutes including the WIV and the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences made the patent application on January 21, an announcement made on the WIV website on Tuesday said.

The researchers also published a paper in the medical journal Cell Research on Tuesday, explaining the efficacy of the two drugs.

“Our findings reveal that remdesivir and chloroquine are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV (novel Coronavirus) infection in vitro. Since these compounds have been used in human patients with a safety track record and shown to be effective against various ailments, we suggest that they should be assessed in human patients suffering from the novel coronavirus disease,” the paper’s recommendation said.

“Remdesivir has been recently recognised as a promising antiviral drug against a wide array of RNA viruses (including SARS/MERS-CoV5) infection in cultured cells, mice and nonhuman primate (NHP) models. It is currently under clinical development for the treatment of Ebola virus infection,” the paper pointed out.

“Chloroquine is a cheap and a safe drug that has been used for more than 70 years and, therefore, it is potentially clinically applicable against the 2019-nCoV,” it added.

China is already capable of manufacturing chloroquine and now wants to start using remdesivir to treat Coronavirus patients.

The WIV statement said it made the patent application out of “national interest” and will not exercise its patent rights if foreign pharmaceutical firms work together with China to curb the outbreak that’s already killed close to 500 people and infected nearly 25000.

The manufacturer of remdevisir, Gilead, is already in talks with the Chinese government and is learnt to be shipping enough doses to treat 500 patients initially.

“It may go into clinical trials in China as early as next week in patients with moderate and severe symptoms of the novel Coronavirus, Merdad Parsey, Gilead’s chief medical officer told Bloomberg.

With the support of the ministry of science and technology, the national health commission and the state food and drug administration, the antiviral drug remdesivir has completed the registration and approval of clinical trials, and the first batch of cases is now in place. The first group of severe pneumonia patients infected with the new coronavirus will be given the drug on February 6.

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