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Guilford company’s new pill that could prevent COVID-19 from entering the body gets FDA OK for human trials

Coronavirus

GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — AI Therapeutics in Guilford received some exciting news from the FDA this week. Their drug, currently being used to treat some forms of cancers, will now go through 60-90 days of human trials at Yale and other locations across the country in an effort to prevent COVID-19.

Entrepreneur and genetics expert Jonathan Rothberg, Ph.D., shared details of the drug, Apilimod’s, promise, so far.

“A Gates Foundation study tested 13,000 compounds AI Therapeutics LAM 2 Apilimod, was the number one compound out of 13,000 tested and it stops the entry of the virus. You stop the virus from getting in the cell, you stop the virus,” says Rothberg.

He says the drug is already being used to treat some cancers.

“We know the drug is safe, it’s been safe in over 700 people but now we have to go from stopping the virus in a petri dish to stopping it in people we love, and that’s what is happening at Yale University.”

He says their goal is to demonstrate that in only a few days the pill is able to stop the effects of the virus and prevent a COVID-19 infection.

“The FDA has just given us approval to test it as a potential cure for COVID-19 and only after we show efficacy will we use it as a chemical vaccine,” says Rothberg.

He explained how COVID-19 enters our body: “The virus uses a mechanism similar to a garbage chute to get into your cell, and we shut it down and by shutting it down the virus has no access to the cell.”

Rothberg is also behind a company mass-producing $30 molecular home COVID tests that do not rely on antibodies. They are awaiting FDA approval. Rothberg came up with the idea in early March and his team went to work quickly.

Another one of his teams at Butterfly in New Haven created a hand-held ultrasound, revolutionizing patient testing around the world.

As for the drug, Rothberg says it has been tested in Wuhan, China and they have stocked enough compounds to make 5,000,000 pills if and when they receive the proper FDA approvals and clearances.

WEB EXTRA: News 8’s full interview with Dr. Jonathan Rothberg of AI Therapeutics and Dr. John Martin of Butterfly Network

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