As the number deaths related to Coronavirus (Covid-19) pass the 100,000 mark in the United States and 356,000 worldwide, the race to find a vaccine or drug that could arrest the source has intensified. There are now over 500 clinical trials of potential Covid-19 treatments and interventions that have been launched all over the world.
One of the drugs that has demonstrated good potency in inhibiting Covid-19 proliferation in cells is Boceprevir, which also goes by the brand name Victrelis. Boceprevir was discovered by Dr F. George Njoroge, a Kenyan-born scientist, and his team at Merck Pharmaceutical Company and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 for treatment of Hepatitis C.
A paper published in May, 2020 by Jun Wang and researchers at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ says their study found that Boceprevir has “strong binding to the enzyme that COVID uses to process its proteins.” The group of researchers recommended that Boceprevir be further evaluated in animal models and human clinical trials.
Dr Njoroge is excited about the proposition of undertaking further studies to his discovery, and is requesting the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the available data and determine whether Boceprevir could be added to the list of candidates that are undergoing clinical trials as a single agent or in combination with other antiviral inhibitors such as Remdesivir, which is also being evaluated in clinical trials.
Dr Njoroge says it took him and his team 15 years to conduct complex research work that eventually led to the discovery of Boceprevir. The drug was the first protease inhibitor to be approved by the FDA for treatment of Hepatitis C, a rather deadly disease that has infected approximately 180 million people worldwide.
As a result of this achievement, Dr Njoroge were named 2012 Heroes of Chemistry by the prestigious American Chemical Society (ACS). Dr Njoroge has received numerous other global accolades, and was recently nominated to receive the 2020 Distignuished Alumni Award by Case Western Reserve University.
Dr Njoroge received a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University in 1985. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree from Nairobi University, where he graduated first class honors in 1979 after finishing high school education at Thika High School.
As of May 27, 2020, there have been over 5.69 million confirmed cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) worldwide, and more than 356,000 deaths. The United States leads in both the number of cases and deaths at 1.73 million and 102,00 respectively. Kenya has 1,471 confirmed cases and 55 Covid-related deaths.