According to a story from BioSpace, the testing of drugs in clinical trials to address the current coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic will soon be under way. The biopharmaceutical company Sanofi and the biotechnology company Regeneron have recently announced the beginning of a joint program that will test the IL-6 inhibitor monoclonal antibody sarilumab (marketed as Kevzara) as a treatment for patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued its rapid spread around the world, scientists and medical professionals have been hard at work seeking methods to treat the disease more effectively. While most people who get infected with coronavirus will eventually recover with no permanent harm, certain groups of people are at a greater risk of having a more severe reaction to the virus. Older people, particularly those aged 70 or more, appear to be much more susceptible to COVID-19.
Italy is considered by most to be the country most seriously affected in Europe by the pandemic at this juncture. The country has also had a higher percentage of deaths from the virus compared to many other regions. This is often explained as a result of Italy’s population, which is one of the oldest in Europe demographically.
Bringing Down Inflammation
In patients who are seriously ill at the height of the COVID-19 infection, it is common for very high levels of inflammation to appear in the lungs. Therefore, many of the most critically impacted patients require respiratory assistance. Researchers believe that IL-6 could play a role in driving the overactive inflammatory response. This theory is primarily based on data gathered in China which tested another IL-6 inhibiting drug.
About The Trial
The trial will be based out of several medical centers in New York, which is one of the most heavily affected areas in the US. It will be classified as a phase 2/3 trial and is expected to include a total of 400 patients. Kevzara will be added to the standard supportive care regimen currently received by severely ill patients and compared alongside a placebo group. The trial will consist of two parts; the first part will primarily focus on the immediate short-term impact of the drug, measuring its effects on fever and the need for oxygen supplementation. The second part will focus on long term benefits, such as preventing deaths and reducing the need for respiratory assistance or hospitalization.