What is remdesivir, Gilead's possible coronavirus drug that's in trials?

Drug was previously used to treat Ebola

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There are some encouraging results for a possible coronavirus treatment, according to several reports.

A recent clinical trial of remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences, saw patients discharged from the hospital in less than a week, medical website STAT reported on Thursday.

The trial was conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine. It was the second set of trial results to be published on remdesivir in the U.S.

In the U.K. Friday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that remdesivir prevented the spread of disease in monkeys infected with the coronavirus, the NIH said in a press release.

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Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine that was originally created to treat Ebola, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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The drug is given through an IV and is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.

There was only one control trial for remdesivir in treating Ebola that was cut short, according to RXList.com, because it wasn’t working and there was a “significant increase” in patient mortality.

However, remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to treat coronavirus in lab tests. At this point, there is not enough data for the medication to be deemed as a potential coronavirus treatment.

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According to Gilead: “Remdesivir has demonstrated in vitro and in vivo activity in animal models against the viral pathogens MERS and SARS, which are also coronaviruses and are structurally similar to COVID-19.”

The company clarified that the medication “does not have established safety or efficacy for the treatment of any condition.”

If remdesivir is eventually deemed safe and effective in clinical trials, it could lead to fast approval from the Food and Drug Administration and become the first approved treatment against the coronavirus.

Thus far, no drugs have been approved for treating the virus.

“What we can say at this stage is that we look forward to data from ongoing studies becoming available,” Gilead said in a statement Thursday.

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The biopharmaceutical company is expecting the results from two other ongoing studies soon.

One study includes 2,400 coronavirus patients with "severe disease" from 152 different clinical trial sites around the world. The other study includes 1,600 patients with "moderate disease" at 169 clinical trial sites around the world.

Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of an earlier study of remdesivir in treating coronavirus patients.

Those results appeared “encouraging,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital who is helping lead one of the studies testing the drug, the Associated Press reported last week.

However, more information is still needed to see if the drug is effective in treating COVID-19.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.