Sunshine Biopharma States It Is Developing COVID Antiviral That Could Play Important Role In Treating Endemic COVID

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If COVID continues down the path to becoming endemic, the virus that halted global economies is here to stay, albeit likely in a less fatal form.

Humanity arguably needs to develop public health protocols similar to what exists for the flu, including seasonal vaccines and advance planning for hospitals preparing for an influx of patients.

For hospitals to brace for ongoing, seasonal spikes in COVID cases that seem like they’ll happen around the same time that flu season kicks in, stronger antivirals may end up being key to assisting and treating a possible surge of COVID patients each winter.

One company hoping to help hospitals do that is Sunshine Biopharma Inc. SBFM. The Canada-based pharmaceutical company has reported working on a novel antiviral that targets the virus in a different way to help the patient’s immune system fight infection faster.

Better Treatments For The Infected Are Still Needed

According to a study published this month by the Department of Health and Human Services, people who have at least two doses of a vaccine were 90% less likely to die or need mechanical ventilation. For those who had three doses, that protection against severe disease and death went up to 94%. 

Public health initiatives that ensure regular boosters are widely accessible will likely play an important part in keeping the number of cases down to more manageable numbers for hospitals. But for those cases that do end up in hospitals, doctors need effective treatments that can prevent death and help patients recover as quickly as possible.

So far, the treatments that have emerged include a few monoclonal antibody treatments and two antiviral treatments. The antibody treatments from Eli Lilly and Co. LLY, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. REGN and Gilead Sciences Inc. GILD were effective at first, but ongoing research shows they’re rapidly decreasing in potency to the point that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been vacillating on whether to keep allowing them to be used.

The antivirals from Pfizer PFE and Merck & Co. Inc. MRK are newer to the scene but hold more promise now than the antibody treatments. Both come in pill form that can be taken at home, meaning they can treat people without taking up beds in hospitals. 

Clinical data shows that Pfizer’s Paxlovid reduced hospitalizations and death in COVID patients by 89% when taken within three days of symptoms showing — much better than the 30% protection seen from Merck’s Molnupiravir.  

However, there are safety concerns with both as they interfere with many other common prescription medications and may carry reproductive risks.

SBFM-PL4 — A New Kind of Antiviral?

While the antivirals from Pfizer and Merck each target different proteases (enzymes that either break down or replicate proteins) of the coronavirus, they both work by blocking the virus’s ability to replicate. This can slow the spread, but it can do little to improve the body’s ability to fight that slower-spreading virus.

That’s why Sunshine says it is developing SBFM-PL4, which targets and blocks the nsp3 protease. This specific protease is responsible for suppressing the host’s immune response so the virus has a chance to spread further before the immune system kicks in.

By blocking the immune-suppressing ability, Sunshine hopes to keep the patient’s immune system on full alert so it can react faster and start fighting the infection while it’s still new. The patented treatment is being developed in partnership with the University of Georgia. 

As COVID continues to evolve new variants and become more infectious, an antiviral that can keep a patient’s immune system strong could become an important tool for improving the body’s ability to fight off the virus.

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be investing advice.


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