COVID-19: Can a novel flu drug be the breakthrough we all need?
With certain COVID-19 symptoms resembling the common flu, experts wonder if a new anti-flu drug- Baloxavir may be the solution we have all been waiting for.
The entire world is currently battling against COVID-19, as the number of confirmed cases and the lives claimed by the virus are increasing every day. Experts and scientists everywhere are racing against time to find a treatment or vaccine for the novel virus. With the virus emerging victorious every day, the entire humankind is on a backfoot.
Some symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough, and shortness of breath are very similar to the common flu. For this reason, for a while now doctors have been using past anti-flu drugs like oseltamivir to treat COVID-19 patients.
Recently an article published in Nature reported that there are better chances of containing and treating the virus by using the new anti-flu drug Baloxavir rather than pre-existing drugs.
A virus replication initially begins with the virus attaching to the surface of the host cell. Once attached the virus, induces some conformational changes on the host surface, resulting in the fusion of the viral and cellular membrane. Next, the viral capsule is removed and degraded by viral enzymes.
Once the genome is uncoated, transcription or translation initiates virus multiplication. A viral polymerase derived from the cleavage of a polyprotein binds to the pre mRNA. The endonuclease enzyme present in the polymerase helps in converting pre mRNA to capped RNA fragments. These converted RNA fragments are crucial in virus replication.
Baloxavir- A better treatment:
The study conducted in this article involved 1014 patients diagnosed with influenza virus. Influenza patients were chosen in particular due to the common symptoms between the flu and COVID-19. After testing the patient’s viral loads, they were divided into three groups, to be treated with baloxavir, oseltamivir, and placebo.
The results from the study reported that when baloxavir and oseltamivir were administered to patients, around 84% of the study’s population showed a significant decrease in viral load within the first day. To be exact, the viral load in drug administered patients reduced by 54% when compared to the placebo group.
With further study, experts noticed that baloxavir, in particular, was capable of restricting the cap-dependent endonuclease, thus hampering the viral multiplication, in turn reducing the viral load in patients.
The inevitable need for COVID-19:
The above positive results from baloxavir administered patients showed a significant decrease in the viral load and symptoms in patients within the first 24 hours. The scientists believe that a drug like baloxavir can potentially be the answer to the flu-like novel virus- COVID-19.
This could be the breakthrough we all are hoping for, inhibiting the COVID-19 virus and reducing the number of cases and deaths worldwide.