Some Progress Made in Push to Find Coronavirus Treatment

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Some encouraging progress was made Thursday in the quest for a coronavirus treatment, but a cure or vaccine is still far away.

Bay Area biotech companies received a boost thanks in part to some optimistic words from President Donald Trump about the fight against the virus.

“Clinical trials are already underway for many new therapies,” Trump said.

San Francisco biotech giant Genentech also talked progress and partnerships, announcing a phase-three trial with the FDA to see if one of its existing medicines can be used to combat the virus.

”We are starting a clinical trial with one of our medicines called Actemra to see if it might work against the coronavirus pneumonia,” Dr. Levi Garraway, Chief Medical Officer for Genentech, said.

Claes Gustafsson, co-founder of Newark-based ATUM, said their lab is busier than ever and has been working with other local labs to try to find a cure.

“Looking where we were, at least the projects I’ve seen, and we look at, I don't know, at any given time maybe 20, 30 different projects, we certainly see that many of them have come a long, long way because of the amount of resources that are being pushed into making this happen,” he said.

One drug that came up in Trump’s news conference is called Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that was briefly linked to a Stanford University researcher. Stanford told NBC Bay Area it was not part of a study involving that drug and denied the report or any link to the researcher.

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