How COVID-19 Treatment Methods Could Change the Course of Biologics
By Shilpi Mehrotra, Project Manager, Chemicals
July 9, 2020
The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the world trying to utilize as many technologies known and available to man in an effort to monitor and contain the disease.
As of now, most research labs and pharmaceutical companies are collaborating, with China being the hub of most of the ongoing research. Current ways to treat COVID-19 include:
1. Using already existing drugs and therapies that were developed to treat other diseases and testing their efficacy against coronavirus, either one at a time or making a combination of two or more drugs
2. Developing new drugs and carrying out clinical trials, both in the testing phase as well as directly with infected patients
As history shows, developing a new drug usually takes a significant amount of time, and time is of the essence considering the high rate at which coronavirus is spreading. However, one benefit that researchers have is the fact that the genome of COVID-19 is already mapped and available for further study. The complexity in developing drugs to counter the coronavirus is thus simplified, as drugs to counteract RNA-based viruses are much easier to develop.
Most of the drugs being tested for coronavirus are already existing chemical entities like Kaletra (used to treat HIV) and Tamiflu (used to treat influenza); some are biologics like vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, recombinant enzymes, and interferons. However, new drugs that are being developed specifically to target COVID-19 mostly consist of biologics. Some examples include a protein-based vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline, the IFX-1 (anti-C5a monoclonal antibody) drug from one of the China-based clinical trials, and an encapsulated mRNA vaccine by Moderna.
Moreover, research articles being published thus far indicate that antiviral drugs used to treat previously “very deadly” diseases like Ebola (Remdesivir), malaria (Chloroquine), HIV (Lopinavir/ritonavir), SARS (APN01), and MERS (Remdesivir) may very well be “repurposed” to treat COVID-19, either by themselves or in combination with other drugs. All these drugs are being tested in labs.
All drugs, whether chemical entities or biologics, require excipients or inactive ingredients in the final formulation process of drug development and are a part of the final drug that is administered to patients. Examples of excipients or inactive ingredients include stabilizers and bulking agents, solubility enhancers, surfactants, and vaccine adjuvants.
As soon as a successful treatment method is discovered, the production of that particular drug/vaccine or the combination of drugs will increase exponentially, raising the demand for excipients required in their formulation. In the event of a biologic drug entity becoming successful, demand for bioprocessing ingredients will grow exponentially. For a small molecule formulated as an oral solid, excipients such as copovidone to help increase solubility may gain popularity.
Kline’s reports on biologics and solubility enhancement can provide the reader with both the technical and qualitative insights related to drug development, as well as the global market perspective of various “inactive ingredients” that are being used to manufacture a variety of OSDFs and biopharmaceuticals.