An Emory University-owned nonprofit started a GoFundMe Thursday to accelerate testing and clinical trials for a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
Emory’s Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE) is asking for $5 million.
“Today, DRIVE has the most promising potential antiviral therapeutic for coronavirus that can be taken as a pill, making it easy to disseminate, a critical aspect in containing a pandemic. . . To date, our treatment has been proven successful in animal trials. We are on the verge of human testing,” the GoFundMe page says.
Researchers in China also are working on a treatment administered via injection.
The Emory non-profit says it used funds from Emory University and the U.S. government in the initial development but have gaps in funding that require emergency support, given the pace of the current COVID-19 outbreak.
George Painter, director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development (EIDD) and CEO of DRIVE, said he started working on the antiviral drug in 2013 after being approached by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. At the time, the agency was looking for a treatment for Venezuelan equine encephalitis, a sometimes fatal, mosquito-borne illness.
But the drug showed promise against not only Venezuelan equine encephalitis and the seasonal flu, but also SARS, considered a cousin of the new coronavirus. In recent weeks, researchers have started testing the antiviral compound against coronavirus.
Viruses such as influenza, chikungunya, SARS and even Ebola have similar enzymes that drive them to replicate. The new treatment is aimed at blocking the enzyme needed for replication.
Painter, who wants to speed up the process for clinical trials, hopes to have the drug fast-tracked to be available to the general public in as soon as six months.
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