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Pennsylvania biotechnology company testing new drug that could change the way COVID-19 patients are treated

The drug addresses the body's response to COVID-19 and other illnesses

By the end of the month, Americans could begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, Pittsburgh-based biotechnology company, CytoAgents says, a vaccine is not the only solution in the fight against the virus. 

"The ultimate solution will be a combination of vaccines, testing, and treatment," said Teresa Whalen, CytoAgents CEO. 

CytoAgents began Phase 1 trials on a drug they believe will change the way, not only COVID-19 is treated, but also other illnesses. 

"Our drug treats the underlying causes of illness," said Whalen. 

The drug is called GP1691. It's an oral pill that helps a body in cytokine storm, which is an immune response where the body starts to attack its own cells instead of just fighting the virus. This is something scientists believe is happening in COVID-19 positive patients and explains why some have mild symptoms, but for others it's deadly. 

"We look to prevent patients from progressing and going into the ICU," said Whalen. "To prevent them from requiring ventilation and to get them out of the hospital, or keep them at home giving them an orally available treatment." 

CytoAgents says, because GP1681 addresses the body's immune response, it would be effective in treating other illnesses or if the COVID-19 virus mutates. 

"We need treatment for viruses, that when they mutate, they still work," said Whalen. "For viruses, when we need time to develop a new vaccine, we have treatments that still work, and that's gp1681."

There's no price tag for GP1681 yet, but CytoAgents expects it to be a coule hundred dollars, which they say is cost effective compared to other COVID-19 treatments costing thousands.