Sheba Medical Center is the first hospital in the world to collaborate with Merck & Co., Inc., to conduct a COVID-19 clinical trial of their drug, Molnupiravir (MK-4482). Originally designed to combat the flu, the medication is being tested as a treatment for COVID-19 patients who have symptoms and were diagnosed within the last 10 days. It is intended to be taken for five days at 12-hour intervals.
The drug works by causing mutations in the enzyme responsible for replicating the virus. By blocking replication, the disease is prevented from worsening – effectively stopping it.
Presently, Molnupiravir is in Phase II/III clinical trial to test safety and efficacy. If it is found to be safe and effective, the drug is expected to be approved at the end of the trial as a treatment for patients who are both in and out of the hospital. The COVID-19 clinical trial will continue in other international hospitals.
Thus far, Phase I results in US trials have been promising. Preclinical trials last spring also produced encouraging results, both in cells and in animals.