OyaGen Inc., a local biotechnology company, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick, Md., have found compound OYA1 to be antiviral for the coronavirus.
SARS-CoV-2 is the leading agent for COVID-19, or coronavirus, and the two organizations discovered that OYA1 is dose-dependently antiviral based on cell culture infectivity studies.
OYA1 has broad-spectrum antiviral activity assays against the coronaviruses SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV. The compound is also antiviral against filoviruses such as Ebola virus.
OYA1 previously had FDA approval as an investigational new drug for treating cancer in the 1960s but was later rejected for a lack of efficacy. Studies from that period proved the compound was safe when dosed either daily or weekly in nonhuman primates and human adults.
Side effects may include cardiac toxicity in children when dosed daily. Studies in mice suggested the compound may last in tissues for more than 12 days after being given a single dose, particularly in heart tissue. However, the long half-life in OYA1 in tissues suggests that a single dose or weekly dosing may be sufficient for treating viruses.
OyaGen will continue conducting studies to determine the safety of OYA1 in treating coronavirus in order to gain regulatory approval. The company expects that OYA1 will be used as treatment until vaccines are developed.
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