A study carried out by the University of California together with the Pasteur Institute in Paris has verified the efficacy of plitidepsin, an antiviral treatment produced by the pharmaceutical company Pharmamar. This antiviral treatment is extracted from Aplidium albicans , a siphonshaped marine filter animal. Plitidepsin can reduce the viral load in the lungs by 100 times, and is 27.5 times more effective than remdesivir, the most widely used treatment so far.
Efforts to achieve an effective vaccine against the coronavirus have already paid off and the population has begun to be vaccinated around the world. However, people who are already sick with COVID-19 need treatments that combat the symptoms and damage caused by the infection. However, current treatments are not as effective as would be desirable.
So far the European Medicines Agency has approved several drugs for the treatment of COVID-19. Among them dexamethaxone and remdesivir. Dexamethaxone is a corticosteroid that prevents excessive inflammation, which reduces lung damage caused by overloading the immune system. On the other hand, remdesivir is an antiviral, developed to treat Ebola, which has shown its effectiveness in reducing the multiplication of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Treatment with these drugs reduced mortality in those most seriously ill patients in recent months in hospitals around the world.Plitidepsin is not a drug that "attacks" the virus, but a therapy aimed at protecting the host. Viruses need the machinery of human cells to multiply. Plitidepsin blocks the human eEF1A protein and thus prevents the virus from using our cells to make copies of itself. Plitidepsin had been listed since 2003 as an orphan drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a type of cancer and a rare disease. The name orphan is used when medicines are not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to manufacture.
In May 2020 PharmaMar began clinical trials for its use as an antiviral against COVID-19, and is currently in phase II and III of clinical trials for this purpose. Research at the University of California focused on the new British variant of the coronavirus, the most contagious, and showed that plitidepsin was also effective against this
mutation. It was found that this drug is able to reduce lung inflammation, which is one of the most serious side effects of COVID-19. Also Plitidepsin has an advantage over those that directly affect the virus: viruses are less likely to develop resistance to this type of antiviral. This is why it continues to be effective even against new coronavirus variants.