Drug designed to treat COVID-19 could help people heal from virus, researchers claim

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KTRK) -- A Texas A&M University professor and his team of researchers say they've developed a drug that is designed to be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19.

The new drug compound is called MPI8. It has reportedly stopped the replication of COVID-19 in lab tests, and if it is approved clinically, the team is hopeful it could be a great tool to help people heal from the virus.

Dr. Wenshe Ray Liu and a team of about 20 researchers started working on the drug in January 2020 as they saw what was happening with the virus in China.

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So far, the drug shows potential to be effective in treating even the more aggressive delta variant.

"We have heard of all of these different kinds of strains of this virus," explained Liu. "So, MPI8 is active equally to all of those different strains."

If approved, MPI8 will be in pill form. Dr. Liu says the drug can help prevent people from getting COVID-19 and will also be able to save patients who are severely sick in the hospital.

"There is no effective medication right now to really control the virus' replication at that stage. So, MPI8 can actually directly target that part, to basically inhibit the virus from replication," he said. "I would think this small molecule will really save a lot of patient lives, especially those people who show really severe symptoms."

So, when will MPI8 be available?

"[Researchers] want to finish all of the clinical analysis by the end of spring so they can send it to FDA new drug approval request," Liu said. "So I would think next summer, if everything goes okay, it will be available."

Currently, Remdesivir is the only FDA approved medication to treat COVID.

Dr. Liu says studies show it only has moderate benefit to patients.

Dr. Liu explained he is hopeful that a combination of the vaccine, Remdesivir and MPI8 will be highly effective together in keeping people from getting sick and dying from the virus.

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