The New York-based company said a phase one trial of the drug – called PF-07321332 – is underway in the United States. The drug is part of a class of drugs called protease inhibitors and works by inhibiting an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate in human cells.
Protease inhibitors are used to treat other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.
“Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention through a vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus,” Pfizer Scientific Director Mikael Dolsten said in a press release. “Given how SARS-CoV-2 mutates and the continued global impact of COVID-19, it seems likely that having access to treatment options both now and beyond will be critical. of the pandemic. ”
The trial comes as Pfizer is also working on an intravenously administered protease inhibitor known as PF-07304814. This drug is currently in a phase 1b clinical trial in patients hospitalized for Covid-19.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
The company said preclinical studies have shown that the oral drug, the first protease inhibitor taken orally for Covid-19 to be evaluated in clinical studies, demonstrates “potent” antiviral activity against the virus.
Because it is taken orally, the drug could be used outside of hospitals for people newly infected with the virus. The researchers hope the drug will stop the disease from progressing and keep people away from the hospital.
Pfizer said it would provide more details on the drug at the Spring American Chemical Society meeting on April 6.