This week, researchers published promising news about a new experimental broad-spectrum antiviral drug called GS-5734. They report the drug's potential for fighting RNA viruses, known as coronaviruses, that cause such ailments as the common cold and pneumonia, as well as viruses that have caused lethal outbreaks, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The news is important because there are currently no retroviral drugs approved to treat these infections.
GS-5734 has shown the ability to inhibit several coronaviruses. The researchers tested the drug on mini models of human lungs consisting of airway epithelial cells, collected from lung transplants. Because those cells express the genes and proteins of the airways that are targeted by coronavirus infections, researchers can use them as a facsimile for host tissue.
In addition, the researchers identified how the virus fights against the drug, which is important for predicting whether a drug might be effective for humans.