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Remdesivir becomes first drug to be fully approved for COVID-19 by US: All you need to know

Team Udayavani, Oct 23, 2020, 1:13 PM IST

The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir for treating patients hospitalised with COVID-19, making it the first and only drug approved for the disease in the US.

Remdesivir was given to President Donald Trump this month when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. It was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola and Hepatitis C.

Remdesivir was developed to treat Ebola disease caused by an RNA virus. Now, Gilead discovered that the drug has antiviral activity in vitro against pathogens that cause MERS and SARS, which are coronaviruses and structurally similar to SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, an RNA virus.

Remdesivir is thought to interfere with the mechanism that certain viruses, including the new coronavirus, use to make copies of themselves.

According to FirstPost, Remdesivir is a nucleoside analogue. Studies show that it competes with ATP (adenosine triphosphate) during the production of viral RNA.

Viruses are intracellular parasites. Once they get inside healthy cells, they use the machinery and materials from these cells to make copies of their own nucleic acid. RNA or ribonucleic acid is the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2.

Every RNA is made of a series of four nucleotide bases arranged in various ways to code for specific characters or make specific proteins. These bases include ATP, GTP, CTP and UTP.

An enzyme called RNA polymerase makes new RNA copies which are then used to make new viruses. Remdesivir, when it gets integrated in place of ATP during the formation of RNA, completely halts the replication process. No replication means no new RNA and no new virus.

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