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AbbVie suspends Kaletra patent rights as COVID-19 drug trials advance

Drug and vaccine trials pick up speed as virus spreads

Coronavirus

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, drug and vaccine trials have gathered speed as pressure intensifies on drug developers to find a safe and effective treatment.

That includes AbbVie, whose HIV treatment Kaletra (aluvia) has already been identified as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus disease.

As focus has increased on drug developers like AbbVie, and doubts are cast that the increased demand for the drug could lead to shortages, the pharma company has decided to suspend its global patents for Kaletra to allow for generic copies to be made.

This allows countries to purchase generic copies of Kaletra if the drug does suffer a shortage, especially if it is found to be effective at treating COVID-19.

Meanwhile, vaccine development has continued to accelerate, despite experts warning that the successful production of a safe and effective shot could be at least a year away.

Nevertheless, biotech company eTheRNA has launched the development of a cross-strain protective coronavirus vaccine for high-risk populations.

The mRNA vaccine would be administered intranasally, and is intended for those who are at a greater risk of contracting the virus, including healthcare workers and the families of confirmed coronavirus cases.

It is also designed to protect against future variations of the virus, by targeting conserved epitopes from the whole virus genome.

"Viral variation means traditional medicinal and preventive vaccine approaches may fall short when confronted with seasonal or outbreak situations,” said Steven Powell, CEO of eTheRNA.

“A vaccine to defend against current and future outbreaks of coronavirus and other respiratory viral pathogens should be robust against viral genome changes, provide a platform that enables rapid introduction of a new viral target, be easy and safe to administer and be scaleable and suitable for stockpiling,” he added.

Other potential drug treatments for COVID-19 include anti-inflammatories, such as Roche’s Actemra (tocilizumab) which was recently approved for use in severely-ill coronavirus patients with elevated IL-6 levels.

Looking to join Roche and a number of other pharma companies is Can-Fite Biopharma, which has submitted its anti-inflammatory drug piclidenoson for a compassionate use programme to treat coronavirus patients to the Institutional Review Board at Rabin Medical Center in Israel.

The drug, which is currently being studied in rheumatoid arthritis, could potentially curb the dangerous inflammatory response known as ‘cytokine release syndrome’, which is observed in the patients with the novel coronavirus.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

24th March 2020

From: Research

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