Coronavirus: where are Institut Pasteur's promising treatment clinical trials at?

Published by Laurent P. · Published on 12 January 2021 at 19h36 · Updated on 13 January 2021 at 09h25
And what if the cure against coronavirus already exists? In September 2020, searchers from Lille Institut Pasteur discovered the existence of a molecule potentially active against the virus and, in all likelihood, not leading to side effects. Is this Clofoctol, a medication curing minor respiratory diseases? What about the clinical trials? Let us tell you more on that.

The search for a cure against coronavirus is moving on nicely! On Tuesday September 29, 2020 searchers from the Institut Pasteur de Lille have told RTL they may have found a cure against Covid-19, a molecule to be exact, that seems active against the virus. A treatment already used on the European continent for other uses and that could be produced on a larger scale to be commercialized in 2021 after validation from the concerned higher bodies.

What is this treatment? According to the institute director Xavier Nassif, it is “a bit of a confidential” molecule discovered “by a repositioning technique, it means we take medicines we find in pharmacies and see if – miraculously – there is not a molecule that could be effective on the virus whereas it was not created on this purpose” he explains. “We want to keep the name of the medicine secret to avoid a parallel market and prescriptions under control and manage stocks” a searcher says. A molecule tested in a laboratory expected to go on clinical trial soon.

According to AEF Infos, this is Clofoctol, an effective antibiotic against minor respiratory diseases, given as a suppository and commercialized in France between 1978 and 2005 as Octofene. News the Institut Pasteur did not wish to confirm or deny to avoid, if need be, shortage and inability to pursue clinical trials. 

How does it work? Once again, Xavier Nassif answers: “We used the product that is not very popular. The active substance comes and piles up in the airways, lungs, where the virus is found in the early stages of the disease” he explains. He goes on “in every test ran, this molecule inhibits the replication of the virus. […] This is a very little-used molecule and it does not present specific issues in terms of side effects. It could be administered risk-free”.

What about trials? After testing the treatment on infected human cells, that ended up quite successful, this mysterious treatment is subject to preclinical study since October 2020 on monkeys. As for trials on humans, according to Benoit Déprez they will take place "as double blind trials, against placebo, doctors nor patients will know if they are using the medicine or the placebo that has no active substance" as written in December in Sciences et Avenir.  As for results, if everything goes as planned and if the health authorities  keep a close look on the works, they will be delivered in May 2021.

When will it be commercialized? According to the Institut Pasteur de Lille director, by spring 2021: “We are designing the trial, then we will request the requiring authorizations, but it will take quite a while” he says. He adds: “We are wondering who will get this molecule, mild sick or asymptomatic carriers so that they secrete the virus for less time, or very sick people. If we run the clinical trials quickly, we target late winter 2021”.

Excellent news then, and a clinical trial we will follow closely. For the record, there is no effective antiviral cure so far that has been proven and allowed against coronavirus.

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