Innovative Delivery Method for COVID-19 Antiviral Announced
A University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy lab published results showing that ‘dry powder inhalation’ could be a potent and effective delivery method of remdesivir, an antiviral drug currently authorized to treat COVID-19.
Through the patented thin-film-freezing process developed in the lab of Robert O. (Bill) Williams III, Ph.D., remdesivir, now known as Veklury, could be dispensed on an outpatient basis, allowing for easier and more accessible administration of antiviral COVID-19 treatment.
Dr. Williams, who serves as head of the UT College of Pharmacy’s Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, published his research group’s initial findings in a July preprint, and in a September 22, 2020 update.
The results show that remdesivir, when delivered through dry powder inhalation and after undergoing the thin-film-freezing process, reported antiviral efficacy against SARS-CoV-2.
“These are amazing findings,” says Williams. “The live subject tests further show our initial thoughts: it is preferable to keep remdesivir in the lungs where it is converted from the prodrug to the active GS-441524 rather than through other comparable delivery methods. One of our dry powder formulations had very low plasma concentration of remdesivir following administration to the lung, meaning that remdesivir stayed in the lung where the infection is primarily located.”
Now that live subject tests have completed, Williams and his team will submit their research for final peer review and publication.
As of May 1, 2020, remdesivir - Veklury had been issued a U.S. FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) in the USA for those hospitalized with severe disease. This authorization was based on data indicates it may shorten the time it takes to recover from the infection.
And, the FDA broadened the scope of the existing EUA for Veklury to include treatment of all hospitalized adult and pediatric patients with suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, irrespective of their severity of the disease, on August 28, 2020.
Originally developed to treat the Ebola virus disease, remdesivir has shown promising results treating COVID-19 in the human airway epithelial cells. However, limited effective delivery methods have hindered efforts to provide widespread treatment to a broad range of patients exhibiting life-threatening symptoms.
“Even with a vaccine, COVID-19 will be with us for a while,” says Williams. “It’s important now more than ever to find additional antiviral treatments for those exhibiting complications from the disease and more effective means of administering those treatments. An easier and more widely available delivery method, such as a dry powder inhaler, could vastly improve outcomes and provide treatment well before life-threatening complications occur.”
The research team, which includes Sawittree Sahakijpijarn, Chaeho Moon, John J. Koleng, and Dale J. Christensen, has developed inhaled forms of remdesivir for protecting and treating the respiratory mode of infection, including an amorphous brittle matrix powder made by thin-film freezing.
TFF Pharmaceuticals Inc. has acquired the patents regarding thin-film freezing and inhalation.
PrecisionVaccinations publishes research-based COVID-19 treatment news.