Pfizer has begun a U.S.-based clinical trial examining the safety and tolerability of an oral antiviral therapeutic against the virus causing COVID-19 disease, the company announced Tuesday.
The so-called “protease inhibitor” candidate works by preventing the virus from replicating. If the virus cannot replicate, then it cannot further infect the host. Lab studies indicated the candidate was potent against SARS-CoV-2, and against other coronaviruses, Pfizer said.
“Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus. Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of COVID-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic,” Dr. Mikael Dolsten, PhD., chief scientific officer and president, worldwide research, development and medical of Pfizer, said in the release posted Tuesday.
Dolsten explained the therapy could be “prescribed at the first sign of infection” for patients without requiring hospital care. Meanwhile, an IV-administered protease inhibitor is in a Phase 1b trial to serve as an option for hospitalized patients.
“Together, the two have the potential to create an end-to-end treatment paradigm that complements vaccination in cases where disease still occurs,” Dolsten wrote.
Pfizer plans to share further data during a Spring American Chemical Society meeting on April 6.