MK-4482 shows potential to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection

The investigational antiviral drug MK-4482 significantly reduced the levels of viruses and disease in the lungs of hamsters treated for SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health scientists. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. MK-4482, administered orally, is currently in clinical trials in humans. Remdesivir, an antiviral drug already approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use against COVID-19, must be administered intravenously, making its use primarily limited to clinical settings.

In their study, published in the journal Nature communications, scientists found MK-4482 treatment to be effective when given up to 12 hours before or 12 hours after hamsters were infected with SARS-CoV-2. These data suggest that treatment with MK-4482 could potentially reduce high-risk exposures to SARS-CoV-2 and could be used to treat an established infection with SARS-CoV-2 alone or possibly in combination with other agents. .

The same research group, located at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH in Hamilton, MT, developed the hamster model last year to mimic the infection. by SARS-CoV-2 and mild illness in humans. The University of Plymouth in the UK has collaborated on these most recent studies.

The project involved three groups of hamsters: a pre-infectious treatment group; a post-infection treatment group; and an untreated control group. For both treatment groups, scientists administered MK-4482 orally every 12 hours for three days. At the end of the study, the animals in each of the treatment groups had 100 times less infectious virus in their lungs than the control group. Animals in both treatment groups also had significantly less lung damage than the control group.

Scientists determined the MK-4482 treatment doses for this study based on previous experiments in mouse models of SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. In these studies, MK-4482 was effective in preventing viruses from replicating.

With financial support from NIAID, the Drug Innovation Ventures group at Emory University in Atlanta developed MK-4482 (also known as molnupiravir and EIDD-2801) to treat influenza. Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics are jointly developing and evaluating MK-4482 as a potential treatment for COVID-19. The drug is in phase 2 and 3 human clinical studies.

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