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LSU, Skymount Medical partner to create first medication for COVID-19 patients

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Even if someone gets any of the available COVID vaccines, they can still catch a milder case of COVID.

Caroline Roberston is classified as what health officials call a breakthrough case. Even though she’s been vaccinated, she’s tested positive. Her first signs were sniffles and slight congestion, so she got tested to be sure of her status.

“I had just tested negative for COVID that previous Friday. So, I didn’t think it was COVID, I really thought it was just allergies, but I decided to go get a test just in case because we are going to see my grandmother the next day,” says Robertson.

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The nurse who contacted Robertson about her positive test told her there is no prescription she can take to cure COVID, only over-the-counter medications to ease her symptoms. The recommendations are the same things anyone would buy to fight the flu.

“Yeah it’s definitely not one thing and I would day just because of the variety of symptoms I mean when you sign up to get these tests done, they have this whole list of symptoms that you can have and they are kind of like a huge range,” adds Robertson.

Wellness Pharmacy says they tell COVID patients to take ibuprofen for the aches, any type of respiratory medication, or vitamin C. Ochsner says over-the-counter products can help with symptoms, but those only provide temporary relief. Currently, there are not any drugs approved to cure COVID.

LSU and Skymount Medical are working to change that. “We’ve come together with one mission and that’s to create the first world treatment to prescribe for infected SARS-CoV-2 patients,” says Chris Galliano who is the chief technology officer for Skymount Medical.

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The drug, known as SM-19, is a new pill anyone would be able to take by mouth that would kill the virus. “We hope that given just like a Tamiflu, ten da treatment, you take it first sign of symptoms. So, when you have a positive COVID-19 test, you take the treatment for 10 days just like similar to how you take an antibiotic,” adds Galliano.

The pill is already on the human trial level and they are hoping with the data they’ve collected they will be able to present a strong case. By partnering with LSU’s Computer Science Program, Skymount Medical has been able to speed up the process using the school’s artificial intelligence.

“Obviously, we are in the middle of the pandemic, so we can’t take 10 years,” says LSU Professor Supratik Mukhopadhyay. Galliano adds that when creating the drug they wanted to make medication that would target the major symptoms of the virus.

“So, we wanted something that was both anti-viral, but also addresses the symptoms such as inflammation and if you look at what makes this virus so lethal, it’s the reaction to the virus. So, we wanted to mitigate that as much as we could,” says Galliano.

Now if someone has tested positive for COVID, and they are taking over-the-counter medications; doctors still recommend folks to quarantine.

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