The government of Lesotho revealed its plan to raise M7-million to fund pre-clinical and clinical trials for the National University of Lesotho’s (NUL) drug compound, a potential treatment for Covid.
The trials will evaluate whether the drug compound is safe for use in humans and determine if it can be used as treatment for Covid-19.
Although he could not give an indication of when the trials will proceed, then Minister of Communications Science and Technology Thesele ‘Maseribane told MNN that they are looking to source the required M7-million by the close of this financial year, at the end of February.
“The principal secretary of communications, Bereng Makotoko, and PS of finance, Nthoateng Lebona, are working together with the government budget planner to find the budget for these trials,” he stated.
If approved, the drug compound will be used as a treatment for people who are already infected, rather than as a vaccine.
The drug compound has been developed by scientists at the NUL Innovation Hub. Dr Lerato Seleteng- Kose, team leader of the group of scientists, said they are still looking for investors to ensure the compound is properly trialed.
Seleteng said the drug will first have to be tested in animals; if it works it will be tested in humans.
She is confident that the compound will pass the clinical tests, saying it had succeeded in laboratory tests in combating the coronavirus.
Samples were sent for laboratory tests at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) earlier this year.
Seleteng said the results revealed that the drug is potentially effective against the two strains of coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-C0V.
In addition, the results indicated that it did not show cytotoxicity, meaning that it is not toxic to animal cells, and has a high therapeutic index.