Study shows effectiveness of pill form of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 in mice (Ralph Baric & Gilead Sciences)**
[Molnupiravir] EIDD-2801’s story starts years before the coronavirus crisis. In 2014, Painter and his colleagues at Emory University began a project funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to find an antiviral compound that could fight Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV). During the Cold War, both the US and the Soviet Union studied VEEV as a potential biological weapon. Typically transmitted through mosquito bites, VEEV causes high fevers, headaches, and sometimes encephalitis, swelling of the brain that can be deadly.
In late 2019, Painter got a contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases* to move EIDD-2801 into Phase I clinical trials for influenza. The plan was to file an investigational new drug application and find a partner to help with the clinical work.
Just as the team was contemplating its next move, word of a virus spreading in Wuhan, China, was starting to make news. One of Painter’s collaborators, UNC coronavirus expert Ralph Baric**, immediately alerted him that the new pathogen was probably a coronavirus—one that EIDD-2801 could potentially combat.
Denison*** says the research team knew a coronavirus outbreak was inevitable. “Every single one of our grants, every single one of our papers predicted that this event was going to happen that’s occurring right now,” he says. “The whole goal of our drug development was to plan for this.”
*Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID.