A common asthma drug for the treatment of COVID-19? | Budesonide

Chiral HPLC separation of budesonide

Even though the vaccination campaign is making progress in many parts of the world – the EU continues, albeit at a “different” pace - the need for effective drugs against COVID-19 remains high.

As already demonstrated by the example of dexamethasone, drugs from the group of glucocorticoids seem to be suitable to prevent severe courses of COVID-19 disease and to shorten the convalescence time. As recent studies at Oxford University have shown, this also applies to the glucocorticoid budesonide, which has long been used successfully to treat asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
In this study, a group of probands in early stage of COVID-19 were administered budesonide twice daily by inhalation for a period of 28 days. Patients in this group were found to have a significantly reduced risk of emergency treatment or hospitalization. In addition, fewer suffered from high fever and persistent COVID symptoms compared to those from the usual care group(1).

Budesonide is present in the R/S form in a 1:1 ratio and has a different configuration only at carbon atom 22:

Structure budesonide with stereogenic center

* stereogenic center

The two stereoisomers can be separated using the MACHEREY-NAGEL HPLC special column NUCLEODEX ß-PM. The stationary phase is silica gel to which a permethylated cyclodextrin is covalently bound.

Permethylated β-cyclodextrin (R = CH3; n = 2):

NUCLEODEX structure cyclodextrine

The cyclodextrin acts as a funnel on the silica gel surface on the inside and outside of which chiral molecules can interact differently and are thus discriminated in their R- and S-forms(2).

Access to application: Separation of budesonide isomers

Further examples of drug analysis related to COVID-19

(1) Sanjay Ramakrishnan, Dan V Nicolau Jr, Beverly Langford, Mahdi Mahdi, Helen Jeffers, Christine Mwasuku, Karolina Krassowska, Robin Fox, Ian Binnian, Victoria Glover, Stephen Bright, Christopher Butler, Jennifer L Cane, Andreas Halner, Philippa C Matthews, Louise E Donnelly, Jodie L Simpson, Jonathan R Baker, Nabil T Fadai, Stefan Peterson, Thomas Bengtsson, Peter J Barnes, Richard E K Russell, Mona Bafadhel, www.the lancet.com/respiratory, published online April 9, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00160-0
(2) MACHEREY-NAGEL HPLC department, 2012

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