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March 25, 2021

UCLA-led study identifies potential drug for Covid-19 treatment

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and universities in California, Delaware and Germany, as well as German company Merck, have identified a compound, berzosertib, which demonstrated potential in treating SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. 

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and universities in California, Delaware and Germany, as well as German company Merck, have identified a compound, berzosertib, which demonstrated potential in treating SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

Licenced by Merck, berzosertib is currently analysed in separate early- and mid-stage clinical trials along with chemotherapy as a potential treatment for small-cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer and other tumour types.

In various experiments using different types of cells in lab dishes, the scientists found that berzosertib was effective in hindering the coronavirus’ ability to replicate and did not harm cells.

UCLA molecular and medical pharmacology and bioengineering professor Robert Damoiseaux SAID: “Kinase inhibitors are very frequently standalone cancer treatments, and not all single-agent kinase inhibitors are well tolerated.

“By contrast, berzosertib is not a standalone treatment and has very limited effects on cell health when used on its own.

“It may be worthwhile for researchers to run clinical trials to find out whether cancer patients in particular might profit from this drug as a Covid-19 treatment.”

UCLA noted that the researchers analysed 430 drugs from among the approximately 200,000 compounds and identified 34 with some potential to stop coronavirus. At lower doses, eight showed to halt the virus before the scientists zeroed in on berzosertib as the most promising candidate.

Separately, Xlear has sought a Pre-Emergency Use Authorization (Pre-EUA) Request from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make claims that the nasal spray is approved for use in preventing Covid-19 transmission and infection.

Earlier, Xlear filed a pre-EUA seeking approval for use of the nasal spray as a medical device to fight against Covid-19. The FDA, however, concluded that Xlear “works against the virus” and could be considered as a drug or combination product EUA.

Xlear CEO Nathan Jones said: “Seeing that the FDA says Xlear works against the virus, we have decided to seek EUA approval as a drug.”

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