Utah Company’s COVID-19 Drug ‘Fast-Tracked’ By FDA

Jun 24, 2020, 9:33 PM | Updated: 10:22 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Scientists in Utah are studying a drug that could protect people from the effects of COVID-19.

The treatment drug is called RBT-9, and in addition to fighting the viral replication in the body, scientists at Frontier Scientific said it would also protect organs, like the lungs, from inflammation.

The main active ingredient for RBT-9 was actually created at Frontier some 30 years ago, mostly used back then for research.

Then, a few years ago, a Texas company called Renibus Therapeutics worked with Frontier to develop the chemical as a treatment, mainly to protect the kidneys of elderly patients undergoing anesthesia.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, researchers realized it could help fight that disease, and later learned that it can actually fight the virus, in addition to protecting the organs.

Frontier was working with Renibus for Stage 2 trials that have been fast-tracked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and in revising their process to better mass-produce the drug for human use.

“Very exciting for us to be involved with the project, and be able to help them in development of this product for treatment in patients, especially at this time that COVID-19 is affecting so many people,” said Dr. Dustin Cefalo, vice president of Porphyrin Chemistry.

Clinical trials were already underway on 250 patients.

Cefalo was watching those clinical trials closely. He said Renibus Therapeutics developed their chemical into a treatment for organ protection just a few years ago, but it turns out the drug could potentially be a big help for some of those more vulnerable COVID-19 patients.

“It works in many different ways within the body,” Cefalo said. “It reduces the viral replication, while also reducing significantly the inflammation seen in COVID patients, and also protects the organs from additional damage.”

They could hear word as soon as four weeks from now whether the drug will move on to Stage 3 trials, where it would be tested on thousands of people.

RBT-9 is administered intravenously, so it would only be used for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19. Frontier is a relatively small lab, so they said the would work with Renibus in Texas to mass-produce the drug.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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Utah Company’s COVID-19 Drug ‘Fast-Tracked’ By FDA