Gilead Could Hold the Key to Treating the Coronavirus

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Could pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Report hold the key to containing and treating the coronavirus? Chinese officials think the company just might.

Chinese researchers reportedly have applied for a local patent on an experimental Gilead drug that they believe could help fight the novel coronavirus outbreak - and also significantly bolster Gilead's bottom-line going forward.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology – based in the central Chinese city at the epicenter of the epidemic – has applied for a patent in China for the use of Remdesivir, an antiviral therapy used to treat infectious diseases including Ebola and SARS.

The application was made on Jan. 21 along with a military academy, according to a Feb. 4 statement on the institute’s website.

Chinese officials have moved aggressively to contain the infection that has killed almost 500 people and infected nearly 25,000. If granted, Gilead will need to get Chinese patent owners on board when it wants to sell the drug for treating the novel coronavirus infection outside China.

Of course, Gilead isn't alone in the race to find an antidote to the rapidly spreading virus. 

Among the U.S. drug companies exploring a potential treatment: AbbVie  (ABBV) - Get Report, Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report and Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Report.

Shares of Gilead were down 2.37% at $65.80 in premarket trading on Wednesday.

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