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Potential antibody treatment for Coronavirus patients advances in testing

A Potential antibody treatment for Coronavirus being developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis will go into testing in patients with coronavirus later this month, developers said.

Potential antibody treatment for Coronavirus patients advances in testing
Potential antibody treatment for Coronavirus patients advances in testing

GlaxoSmithKline said the drug, called otilimab, might help calm down an immune system overreaction called a cytokine storm. Cytokine storms are blamed for some of the most severe symptoms of coronavirus infections and can lead to fatal organ damage.

The phase II trial will include 800 adults hospitalized with pneumonia from coronavirus, Glaxo said. 

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Otilimab is a monoclonal antibody – a natural immune system molecule that is targeted to neutralize an inflammatory compound known as granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor or GM-CSF.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation can cause joint damage and pain and studies indicate it may be involved in cytokine storms in patients infected with viruses.

Another treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, anakinra, showed promise in helping patients with severe Covid-19, according to a small study published in the journal Lancet Rheumatology on Thursday.

“We believe that otilimab may be able to help to block the effects of one of the types of cytokine (known as GM-CSF),” Kathleen Quinn, a spokesperson for Glaxo, said in an email. “We plan to start a Phase II clinical trial by the end of May. 

The patients will all receive standard care for the novel coronavirus. Some patients will get a placebo and others will get the otilimab infusion to see if it improves their condition.

The trial is expected to run through December.

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