Health

Singapore develops anti-variant Delta drug blend


Singapore researchers found a drug mixture used in the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 to be effective against the Delta variant.

The research team, led by Professor Dean Ho, director of the Institute of Digital Medicine at the National University of Singapore, used artificial intelligence (AI) platforms and live virus experiments to find a drug mixture. Optimal with the right dose, helping to treat Covid-19. The team partnered with DSO National Laboratory to set up the platform in April 2020.

Professor Ho said drug dosage requires precision, cannot be arbitrarily changed – a problem that AI is looking to solve. The platform, IDentif.AI, has identified a mixture of the antiviral drug Remdesivir, along with Lopinavir and Ritonavir – drugs used to treat HIV patients. They are also used in combination by Singapore and many countries in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

While effective, not all of these medications are readily available or can be easily used at home. For example, Remdesivir must be given intravenously in a hospital, making it difficult to use in the community, according to Ho. Therefore, the research focuses on oral medications, instead of other complex measures.

The oral antiviral drug Molnupiravir is being tested. Photo: Reuters

One of the promising combinations is Merck’s new antiviral drug Molnupiravir (tablet) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutic, along with Baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory drug. According to Ho, this combination can strongly suppress nCoV in the laboratory, suitable for conducting further clinical evaluations.

“The results come at a time when Singapore is moving towards treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease. Therefore, we are looking for combination therapies that can be applied to mild patients treated at home or in clinics. community care facility,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Ho believes that some drug mixtures will be suitable to treat severe patients. That helps to shift treatment in hospitals to outpatient treatment at doctors and general clinics, reducing the burden on the health system.

The above drugs were selected after consulting a team of infectious disease experts and oncologists from the National Center for Infectious Diseases Research, National University Hospital and National University Medical School. family. A total of 12 drugs, including a range of antiviral and anticancer drugs, have been tested, sorted by effectiveness in preventing nCoV.

Over the course of three weeks, the team identified the Molnupiravir-Baricitinib drug combination as the most likely treatment. However, Louis Chai, senior advisor to the Department of Infectious Diseases at the National University Hospital, cautioned that there are currently no clinical trial data showing that the mixture is effective in all stages of the disease. disease Covid-19.

He said some drugs can reduce the viral load in the body, but do not slow the course of the disease or prevent the risk of death.

According to Conrad Chan, laboratory director at the Institute of Environmental Research and Defense Medicine, Molnupiravir itself has been effective against nCoV as well as Beta and Delta variants. “The reason is that this drug interferes with a part of the virus, which is maintained in other variants, especially the enzyme it uses to copy genetic material for replication.”

Professor Ho said his team is conducting trials of molnupiravir and its drug combinations on Covid-19 patients. Vaccinated people with mild to moderate illness may be considered for the study.

With data on Covid-19 drug mixtures, the team is working with doctors to find more new drugs, in order to expand the list of drugs to treat Covid-19 in the future, according to Professor Ho.

Mai Dung (Follow StraitsTimes)

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