Spanish scientists believe they have found a drug that can dramatically reduce the impact of COVID-19 – and they’ve had to look deep into the ocean to find it. Aplidin (or plitidepsin) comes from a local sea creature, and it’s not the first time this treatment has been considered as a possible cure for serious illnesses.
A study published by an international research team – led by medical experts in San Francisco – reveals that the early trials of Aplidin have yielded some incredible results, creating a genuine sense of optimism within the scientific community.
In Spain, 45 patients with COVID-19 took Aplidin during the first human trials. They found that the drug reduced the amount of time they spent in the hospital, with 81% of patients returning home within 15 days. The usual rate is 47%. Incredibly, the compound seems to wipe out the viral load of the infection ‘almost completely’.
The one downside to this? Well, aplidin is mainly administered as an IV treatment. That means it cannot be applied with the same ease as a tablet or a vaccine, and almost all recipients will need to arrive at a hospital to receive the treatment. Nonetheless, the abstract from the UCSF team remains incredibly reassuring:
“The drug aplidin, which has limited clinical approval, possesses antiviral activity 27.5-fold more potent than remdesivir against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, with limited toxicity in cell culture.”
“Through the use of a drug-resistant mutant, we show that the antiviral activity of aplidin / plitidepsin against SARS-CoV-2 is mediated through inhibition of the known target. Our results indicate that aplidin is a promising therapeutic candidate for COVID-19.”
Meagan Phelan is a Director at Science Magazine, the journal which first published these findings. She’s particularly excited by the holistic way that aplidin targets coronavirus. By eliminating the host protein, and not the viral chain, it cuts right to the root of the illness. All being well, Phelan believes this treatment could prevent any ‘vaccine resistance’.
“Plitidepsin / aplidin targets a host protein rather than a viral protein, if treatment proves successful in further clinical studies, the SARS-CoV-2 virus won’t be easily able to gain resistance against the drug through mutation.”
“Researchers engineered an antibody that neutralizes the virus. Their antibody, ADG-2, studied in mice, is a ‘promising candidate’ for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 – and also future respiratory diseases caused by SARS-related coronaviruses.”