A medicine bottle labeled for anti-viral coronavirus medication.Researchers at Rutgers University say they are showing early signs of progress toward a new treatment for COVID-19 that could work on future drug-resistant strains of the virus and represent a potential alternative to antivirals like Paxlovid.

No one knows when drug-resistant mutations of COVID-19 may emerge, said Jun Wang, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry who is leading the research. “When it becomes a problem, we want to have something in hand,” he said. The Rutgers team is one of several around the world seeking alternatives to current treatments.

Paxlovid, the brand name for the medication combining the drugs nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, can reduce the risk of severe coronavirus symptoms. But Paxlovid has its limitations, including potential side effects when combined with some other medications.