A medicine that is used to treat leukaemia in cats is the latest hope in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Retromad1, a drug developed by Malaysian biotech firm Biovalence Technologies, has been proven to effectively fight a viral form of leukaemia and infectious peritonitis virus in cats.
Retromad1 was originally developed as a cure for herpes in humans, although it’s not currently approved for human use.
Nevertheless, the drug has been shown to kill off FeCoV, a coronavirus that infects cats and there is considerable hope that it will have the same effect on COVID-19.
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A Biovalence spokesperson said that several scientific papers showed that a specific mutation of Sars-CoV-2 bears similarity to how dengue, Ebola, FeCoV and HIV infect their host.
The drug acts on an enzyme known as the Furin protease. The enzyme acts as COVID-19’s ‘door’ into the victim and Retromad1 effectively locks it.
The Biovalence spokesman added that the drug treats the illness, it can’t prevent it: "It is not a vaccine, however, so cannot be used on healthy individuals to prevent them from getting infected.”
Retromad1 is one of a number of possible treatments for COVID-19, which has so far infected over 200,000 people worldwide and killed 8,008.
There have been 71 deaths recorded in the UK so far. 1,961 people are known to have contracted the disease in the UK, although very few have actually been tested.
One British company that makes COVID-19 testing kits, Biopanda Reagents, says that they have had no orders yet from the NHS.
Sales manager Philip McKee told Wired that while Biopanda are shipping up to 20,000 tests a day: “We’re supplying to clinics, doctors surgeries, anywhere that would have a healthcare professional that can perform such tests,” – none have gone to NHS England.
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Another firm that produces tests – Surrey-based Novacyt – said that Public Health England had ordered £1 million worth of the tests – enough for roughly four weeks of hospital testing.
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