Colorado scientists testing possible COVID-19 drugs

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Researchers at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the Anschutz Medical Campus are now trying to develop an antiviral medication that would fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Dr. Jed Lampe, a professor of pharmacy, along with a team of scientists are currently working on tweaking the HIV medications, lopinavir–ritonavir, with the hope that they’ll attack COVID-19.

“These drugs target the protein the virus produces, called protease,” Lampe said. “It’s sort of the Achilles’ heel of the virus.”

Right now, the researchers are modeling the drug changes on computers. Soon, they’ll test them in the lab. Eventually, they’ll send the best results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where they could get tested in animals and, potentially, humans.

“I’m 100 percent optimistic that within 12 to 18 months we will have effective antiviral agents out there to treat this virus,” Lampe said.

That’s in part because researchers all across the country and even the world are also working to find an antiviral for COVID-19.

“I think it’s great we have a ton of competition because that’s what drives science forward,” Lampe said. “The more competition we have, the more likely we’re to get to some of those antiviral agents and vaccines that much faster.”

Speaking of fast, this week President Donald Trump promised the Food and Drug Administration would fast-track any coronavirus medication. That means it could potentially be approved in just a year or two.

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