While vaccines and antibody treatments have also been developed at a record pace, both have been challenged by the emerging variants springing from COVID-19’s rapidly mutating spike protein. An easy-to-administer oral treatment that doesn’t target the spike protein thus presents several advantages, including effectiveness against new mutations, better time-to-treatment, and improved worldwide accessibility.
The story behind Paxlovid’s discovery and development is fascinating. Target identification had a head start, thanks to early genomic sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and previous experience with SARS-CoV, which caused SARS in the early 2000s. The challenge then became finding a molecule that was orally bioavailable, a mystery unlocked as Pfizer’s team turned its attention to the hydrogen bonds that normally keep such a molecule trapped in the gut.
Drug Hunter follows Paxlovid’s whole breathtaking arc, from genome analysis through Phase I trials and beyond, a design and development triumph that Drug Hunter reviewer Mike Koehler says “sets a speed record that may never be broken.” It’s a story you won’t want to miss.