ATLANTA—Two biomedical science innovations from Georgia State University have been chosen to compete in STAT Madness 2022, a contest to select the top innovation or discovery in biomedical science from last year.
Sixty-four institutions will compete for the best innovative biomedical research of the year. Many of the entries are centered on COVID-19 research, including antiviral treatments and other pandemic solutions, as well as other areas of study such as gene therapy, microbiome research and surgery.
In the first study, published in Science in December 2021, Plemper and his team reported a new antiviral candidate (4’-FlU) that demonstrates potent activity against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other respiratory RNA viruses when administered orally once daily. The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the resurgence of RSV infections in children, have produced an urgent need for broad-spectrum antivirals that can be taken orally by patients at home.
4’-FlU induces termination of the protein that controls the process of copying the viral genome, stopping the virus from replicating. The researchers found the drug strongly blocked SARS-CoV-2 replication, including the gamma and delta variants, and efficiently suppressed RSV burden in the lungs. 4’-FlU is the only potential once-a-day oral antiviral candidate currently developed against SARS-CoV-2 and could be a major asset in improving medication compliance among outpatients.
In the second study, published in November 2021 in Nature Communications, Plemper and his team tested an oral version of remdesivir in ferrets, a leading animal model for testing new drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2. Remdesivir is the only antiviral drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of COVID-19, but it must be delivered intravenously, requiring patients to be hospitalized to receive the drug.
The researchers tested a modified version of remdesivir that can be taken orally and found the compound was highly effective in suppressing SARS-CoV-2 replication and transmission in animals. The drug was also very potent against highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 variants, effectively blocking spread of the virus to contact animals that were co-housed with infected and treated ferrets. Orally available antivirals could be given to patients immediately after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, making this research potentially groundbreaking in improving patient access to treatment early after infection.
Voting for round 1 in STAT Madness 2022 begins March 1 and ends March 7. Institutions with the most votes will move on to the next round. Cast your vote here: https://www.statnews.com/feature/stat-madness/bracket/.