A SPANISH drug has reduced the viral load of COVID-19 in lab animals by 99%.

PharmaMar said Tuesday that its drug Plitidepsin has a ‘potent preclinical efficacy’ against the disease.

According to the Science journal, the drug blocks a protein associated with COVID-19 and has been shown to reduce the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in the lungs of test animals by 99%.

“We believe that our data and the initial positive results from PharmaMar’s clinical trial suggests that Plitidepsin should be strongly considered for expanded clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19,” PharmaMar quoted Science as saying.

The drug is already authorised in some markets to treat tumours and while it can be toxic at certain levels, the doses used in the animal trials would be tolerated by humans, PharmaMar said.

The Spanish pharmaceutical is now in talks to start Phase III clinical trials.

The news sent stocks prices for the giant to soar by more than 20% on the Spanish IBEX Tuesday.

It comes after its price fell following the discovery of the first vaccines and the focus was shifted away from trying to cure the disease.

“The studies of PharmaMar and other companies such as the American Gilead were intended to cure the disease once it was infected, so the emergence of vaccines that would prevent precisely this situation significantly affected their price,” IG Market analyst Aitor Mendez told El Mundo.

“However, in the middle of the third wave, with hospitals once again saturated, and in view of the numerous obstacles that the different administrations are encountering in order to vaccinate the population, this news has given a new boost to their price.”

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