The Spanish company PharmaMar announced on Tuesday that its drug plitidepsin, dubbed Aplidin, has achieved a 99 per cent decrease in the viral loads of the lungs of the animals with which the researchers have worked in the laboratory.
Viral load refers to the amount of virus in an infected person's blood and the news was supported by the publication of an article in the journal Science.
Plitidepsin works by blocking the protein eEF1A, which is found in human cells and is used by SARS-CoV-2 to reproduce and infect other cells. PharmaMar now wants clinical trials in humans to begin.
"We believe that our data and the initial positive results from the PharmaMar clinical trial suggest that plitidepsin should be seriously considered to expand clinical trials for the treatment of Covid-19," the company says.
The Science article also states that plitidepsin is a safe antiviral in humans despite the risk of toxicity from all these drugs.
"In two different animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the trial demonstrated a reduction in viral replication, which resulted in a 99 per cent decrease in viral loads in the lung of animals treated with plitidepsin," reported the publication.
The work is the collaboration between PharmaMar and the laboratories of Kris White, Adolfo García-Sastre and Thomas Zwaka, in the Departments of Microbiology and Cellular, Regenerative and Developmental Biology, at the Icahn School of Medicine; by Kevan Shokat and Nevan Krogan, at the Institute of Quantitative Biosciences at the University of California San Francisco, and by Marco Vignuzzi at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.