Last year, 34 thousand people died of the flu. This year’s flu season isn’t over, but it is on course to be one of the worst in a decade. Add to that, the fears surrounding the deadly coronavirus are keeping infectious disease specialists on high alert.
The sneezing, the coughing, and the body aches.
“I couldn’t move, and I had a high fever of over a 100 and that stayed the same for 3 days,” said Robert Cox, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Researcher, Georgia State University.
Robert Cox knows first-hand how miserable the flu can be.
Now, he works on a Georgia State University research team testing a next-generation drug against the flu called EIDD-28O1.
The drug works by targeting an enzyme needed to replicate the flu virus in the body.
“It looks so much like a regular nucleotide to the virus that it can’t find a way to distinguish between it and other ones,” said Doctor Cox.
Allowing the drug to sneak pass the virus and stop it from replicating.
“So, it stops the application process so the virus cannot produce new genomes that then can be packaged into new viral particles,” said Richard Plemper, Ph.D., Professor, Georgia State University.
Some antiviral drugs currently available on the market, such as Tamiflu, have been found to be ineffective against some strains of the influenza virus. But with tests on ferrets, this new drug proves to be effective against all strains.
“Even after extensive adaptation to our compound, we could not identify any resistance mutations,” said Doctor Plemper.
And this drug may even be fast-tracked to combat the coronavirus, which has surpassed 15 hundred deaths so far.
“Colleagues of ours testing the same drug against coronavirus have actually shown this good activity,” said Doctor Plemper.
Plemper says human trials for this drug could start as early as summer 2020. Just before the next flu season.