FDA has approved saliva test to detect Covid-19 that lowers infection risk for health staff


From study showing effectiveness of remdesivir to another clinical trial for hydroxychloroquine, ThePrint brings you the latest on Covid-19 research.

With studies and research being conducted around the world, understanding of the novel coronavirus and strategies to fight the pandemic are evolving every hour.

ThePrint brings you a round-up of the latest research and development on Covid-19 from across the globe.

Saliva test gets FDA approval

The FDA has granted emergency use authorisation for a new coronavirus test that utilises saliva as the primary biomaterial to detect SARS-CoV-2, instead of nasal and throat swabs.

The saliva collection method, developed by researchers at the Rutgers University in the US, will allow for broader population screening than the current method of nose and throat swabs.

According to the researchers, self-collection of saliva is quicker and more scalable than swab collections. Deploying these tests will mean healthcare professionals will not have to be put at the risk of infection by collecting nasal or throat samples.

This would also preserve precious PPE and increase the number of people that can be tested every day.

Study shows how remdesevir works against SARS-CoV-2

Experimental drug remdesivir is highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of the novel coronavirus, according to a new study.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the research has found that the drug worked against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, a related coronavirus.

Researchers have detailed how remdesivir, developed in 2014 to fight the Ebola epidemic, works.

After conducting studies in animal and cell cultures, the researchers have concluded that remdesevir can be classified as a ‘direct-acting antiviral’ against SARS-CoV-2. The term ‘direct-acting antiviral’ was first used to describe newer classes of antivirals that interfere with specific steps of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle.

Remdesivir is one of several drugs that is being fast-tracked into trials by the World Health Organization after comparing potential treatments on hospitalised Covid-19 patients in a dozen countries, including in India.

US launches clinical trial of HCQ, azithromycin 

Scientists in the US have launched two clinical trials to test the effectiveness and safety of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and azithromycin to treat Covid-19 patients.

Researchers plan to enroll nearly 2,300 patients who are Covid-19 positive or suspected to have contracted the virus. Results from these studies will help in understanding the values of HCQ in treating Covid-19.

HCQ, an anti-malarial drug typically used to treat some autoimmune diseases, and azithromycin, an antibiotic used for sinusitis or pneumonia, have been suggested as potential treatments for Covid-19. But whether they actually help in battling the new virus is yet unknown.

N95 alternatives with home furnace filters

To tackle the shortage of N95 masks that are essential to protect frontline health workers from Covid-19 infection, researchers have repurposed home furnace air filters as a new alternative.

A team from the West Virginia University in the US has found that furnace filters, especially the higher quality ones, works well in blocking the spread of the novel coronavirus. These can be layered up and used with publicly-available 3D designs for respirator masks to cover a person’s face.

The design templates will be freely made available to the public in the coming weeks.

Researchers ramp up production of promising drug 

Scientists have found a way to synthetically produce a naturally occurring peptide valinomycin that has proven effective in obliterating SARS-CoV in cellular cultures.

A team of researchers from the Northwestern University and ShanghaiTech University hopes that this drug might also be effective in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2.

They have produced valinomycin in a cell-free system. With this approach, the researchers have increased the production by more than 5,000 times, achieving higher concentrations of the molecule than achieved previously in cells.

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