Coronavirus Update, 18 Mar

Does the old malaria drug, chloroquine, work for COVID-19?

It has recently been proposed that an old, already approved drug typically used for malaria, could be used to treat COVID-19. It has even been suggested for use by governments around the world.

I looked into the research on it and it doesn’t look promising. First, there are no tests in patients. All of the work is on cells growing in test tubes in the lab. The work is shown here in this chart. In the laboratory, high concentrations can stop the virus getting into cells by >80%, which is not bad. Unfortunately, when you compare the blood level achieved in humans when the drug is given orally to the level used in the test tube experiments, the scientists used 100-times as much drug as you can get in your body. It probably doesn’t so much are the very low doses in the body.

This is the nature of research and every bit of new data, if not directly, clinically useful, moves us forward.

Steven Quay is the founder of Seattle-based Atossa Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ATOS), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics and delivery methods for breast cancer and other breast conditions.

He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from The University of Michigan, was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT with Nobel Laureate H. Gobind Khorana, a resident at the Harvard-MGH Hospital, and was on the faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine. His contributions to medicine have been cited over 9,600 times. He has founded six startups, invented seven FDA-approved pharmaceuticals, and holds 87 US patents. Over 80 million people have benefited from the medicines he invented.

His current passion is the prevention of the two million yearly breast cancer cases worldwide.

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