Can Experimental Cancer and HIV Drug Leronlimab Treat COVID-19?

 

According to BioSpace, an experimental drug designed to treat cancer and HIV may also be poised to treat patients with COVID-19. The drug, called leronlimab, was created by biotechnology company CytoDyn, headquartered out of Washington. Read the full article here.

Leronlimab: The Basics

Leronlimab is a humanized IgG4 monoclonal antibody. What does this mean? A humanized antibody is created when a human antibody is combined with a small piece of a mouse or rat antibody. Monoclonal means that the cells were cloned from a parent cell. Cancer.gov states that the human antibody makes it less likely to be targeted by the body’s immune system, while the rat antibody binds to the target antigen.

In this case, the drug blocks the cell receptor CCR5. CCR5 plays a role in HIV infection, tumor growth, atherosclerosis (fat buildup in arteries), and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. It regulates cell response to inflammation.

For patients with cancer, blocking CCR5 has shown to have promising results. Preclinical trials showed that leronlimab was able to reduce the spread of breast cancer (metastasis) by over 98%.

Clinical Trials

Leronlimab has been used in nine clinical trials to treat over 800 patients with cancer and HIV. One such Phase III trial explored the efficacy of leronlimab and antiretroviral therapies on patients with HIV.

COVID-19

Cytodyn is seeking Investigational New Drug (IND) approval for leronlimab in the treatment of COVID-19. Currently, the company is running a Phase II trial for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections. Next, Cytodyn hopes to test its efficacy as a treatment for patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Researchers believe that leronlimab may help reduce immune response to COVID-19, thought to be one of the main causes of fatalities. Thus, patients with respiratory issues may experience some relief.

So far, only 4 patients with COVID-19 have received leronlimab. Three out of the four resulted in positive outcomes.

Next Steps

CytoDyn plans to continue researching the impact of leronlimab treatment for patients with COVID-19 with a trial providing 342 patients with the drug over a 2-week period.


Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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