In recent months, a slew of novel coronavirus-related illnesses has surfaced. The deadliest one has been when tested positive patients also started showing signs of contracting pneumonia. Numerous people have succumbed to death due to the late response by caregivers and lack of treatment that was effective against the condition.
A proof-of-concept trial has found a medication used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis that could help some COVID-19 pneumonia patients. The study may also have a favorable influence on the Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Market, as demand for the prescription as a treatment for COVID-19-related pneumonia increases.
The CATALYST trial looked at namilumab (IZN-101) as a potential therapy for COVID-19 pneumonia patients. Particularly those receiving "standard" care but still had high levels of an inflammatory marker called CRP (C Reactive Protein) in their blood. CRP levels generally rise when the body is inflamed. The elevated CRP levels have been discovered to be a potential early indication for COVID-19 severity risk.
Namilumab refers to an antibody that targets a cytokine typically released by immune cells in the body. However, it is also considered a significant cause of the severe and excessive lung inflammation experienced by COVID-19 patients. The drug is already in its late stage of trials for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
Patients over 16 with COVID-19 pneumonia were treated onwards or in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at nine NHS hospitals across the UK as part of the experiment.
The study included numerous participants, out of which 54 patients received 'usual care' (ventilation and oxygen or steroids, depending on the severity of disease). On the other side, 57 patients were given standard care and one intravenous dose of 150mg of namilumab. Furthermore, other than COVID-19 pneumonia, all study participants also had CRP levels greater than 40mg/l.
The patients were monitored for 28 days. After the lapse of the period, it was noticed that there was a decrease in deaths and increased hospital discharges. This was truer for people who were given namilumab than those receiving only usual care.
The study's findings show that namilumab decreases inflammation in COVID-19 pneumonia patients who are hospitalized. However, the sample size taken is insufficient to make a definite assessment of clinical outcomes. Further research is needed to address this and better understand the demographic that may benefit the most.
The team added that their conclusions might not apply to hospitalized patients who do not have indications of pneumonia or a high CRP level or to patients who do not require hospitalization. As a result, namilumab has been elevated to the top of the priority list as part of COVID-19 research, where it would be a subject of study for a much larger national Phase III clinical trial.
Researchers believe that namilumab can significantly reduce the hyper-inflammation seen in patients with severe COVID-19 infection. Moreover, they are committed to working with regulators and partners worldwide to ensure that this potential therapy can be developed for COVID-19 patients who desperately need treatment.
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