(Reuters) - An experimental drug being developed by RedHill Biopharma Ltd that improved outcomes in a randomized trial involving severely ill COVID-19 patients infected with earlier versions of the coronavirus is showing promise against the Omicron variant in vitro, researchers said.
The oral drug, opaganib, has dual anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. When opaganib was added to treatment with Gilead Sciences' remdesivir and corticosteroids in hospitalized patients infected before Omicron was predominant, it improved the average time until patients no longer had detectable virus in their blood by four days, sped up recovery by 34%, and reduced mortality by 70%, compared to a placebo, according to data released previously by the company but not yet formally published.
On Monday, the company announced that in lab experiments, opaganib impaired Omicron replication.
Opaganib's antiviral/anti-inflammatory mechanism "is expected to act independently of viral spike protein mutations and remain effective against Omicron subvariants BA.2, XE and other emerging and future variants," the company said.
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