Galidesivir, remdesivir and favipiravir are under study because they’ve already been federally approved for other viral diseases or been tested as antiviral therapy, according to Ashley Brown, Ph.D., associate professor in the UF College of Medicine and affiliated associate professor in the UF College of Pharmacy, per a university news release.
“We chose to research these drugs for effectiveness against COVID-19 because they have the most promise for broad-spectrum antiviral activity,” Brown said, per the release.
In late August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “broadened the scope” of emergency use approval for remdesivir to include treatment of all hospitalized patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
The trio of drugs under study at UF was said to be “known as nucleoside polymerase inhibitors, or NUCs.” According to Brown, NUCs work by disrupting the viral replication process.
She also noted that remdesivir and galidesivir “have shown noteworthy activity in suppressing the virus,” while favipiravir was less effective.
Favipiravir has been approved to treat influenza in Japan, and researchers said galidesivir was first designed to treat hepatitis C but has since shown activity against Ebola and Zika viruses, among others.
“We want to determine the dosing regimen that produces the fastest recovery and the least toxicity for the patient,” said Jürgen Bulitta, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research in the College of Pharmacy. He also serves as the Perry A. Foote Eminent Scholar Chair in the College of Pharmacy.
Brown hopes that the therapies could be administered intravenously for those “who have fully developed COVID-19,” or given as an oral therapy to people who test positive.
The research is underway at the UF Institute for Therapeutic Innovation in Orlando, part of the college’s department of medicine. The UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute is funding the research and created a $2 million fund earlier this year to support research efforts related to COVID-19.