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23 Dec, 2021 01:00

New Russian aerosol drug fights all Covid strains, including Omicron – developer

New Russian aerosol drug fights all Covid strains, including Omicron – developer

The Russian Health Ministry has registered a new antiviral aerosol drug dubbed ‘Mir-19’. According to its developers, the drug is capable of suppressing all known variants of Covid-19, including Omicron.

The Russian name of the drug can be translated as ‘Peace-19.’ It is said to be directly affecting the virus by suppressing its core RNA and preventing it from replicating in the human body. All this is said to be achieved without interfering with a person’s genome or immunity, according to the head of the Russian Federal Medical and Biological Agency (FMBA), Veronika Skvortsova.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Skvortsova lauded the FMBA-developed aerosol as causing “no unpleasant side-effects,” while suggesting that it can be used against all known variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The mechanism of ‘Mir-19’ uses what’s known as the virus-specific small interfering RNA (siRNA), also referred to as the “silencing” RNA. The drug’s molecules are interfering with the specific virus genes to eventually degrade the virus genome, according to Musa Khaitov, the head of the FMBA Immunology Institute. What supposedly makes the design mutations-proof is that it targets the portion of the virus genome that has remained the same in all the variants, and which is vital for its replication, the FMBA explained in a statement

We’ve determined that “Mir-19” completely matches the virus genome target in all the known virus variants, including Omicron… This makes the drug universal against all the different SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Skvortsova added that the FMBA specialists analyzed a total of 800 viral strains, ranging from the original variant to Omicron. 

The drug is manufactured in a form of an aerosol that needs to be inhaled through a special nebulizer and is designed to be used in hospitals. It has successfully passed clinical trials in the “red zones” of the Russian hospitals, where Covid-19 patients are treated. Reduction of the viral load is said to be “visible” after just one inhalation procedure, Skvortsova said. 

Russia first revealed it was developing an siRNA drug back in December 2020. At the time, FMBA said that it demonstrated a 99% effectiveness during pre-clinical trials. An article co-authored by Khaitov and titled “Silencing of SARS-CoV-2 with modified siRNA-peptide dendrimer formulation” has since been published in PubMed.

The drug was reportedly tested on patients with moderate cases of Covid-19, in whom it was said to have prevented the further development of severe disease. In case the aerosol’s effectiveness is confirmed further, FMBA plans to develop two other forms of the drug in a form of a spray. They hope it could potentially be used as a prophylactic, to prevent a person who was in contact with a Covid-19 patient from developing the disease.