New trial to test anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia


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Drugs used to reduce the body’s inflammatory response will be trialled in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia

Researchers at Imperial College London, in collaboration with Rigel Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, are launching a new clinical trial to evaluate the use of the drugs fostamatinib and ruxolitinib in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. 

COVID-19 pneumonia can lead to respiratory and multi-organ failure caused by inflammation. Fostamatinib­ and ruxolitinib work by blocking different parts of the immune response. Both treatments are already in use for other diseases.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, there is a global responsibility to find potentially effective treatments”, said Dr Nichola Cooper from Imperial’s Department of Immunology and Inflammation.

“Severe COVID-19 pneumonia, resulting from inflammation in the lungs, is a leading cause of death for these patients. We believe that suppression of the overactive immune response will be crucial to reduce the immediate and long-term effects of COVID-19 pneumonia.”

The study will look at whether hospitalized patients with COVID-19 respond better to the addition of fostamatinib or ruxolitinib to their standard of care; whether the drugs reduce the proportion of patients going on to develop severe pneumonia or die.

The open label trial, where hospital staff and patients know which treatment each participant receives, will aim to enrol patients with COVID-19 pneumonia at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust from August. The team hopes to expand the trial to other sites, in the UK and internationally, soon.

Raul Rodriguez, Rigel’s president and CEO, said: “There is an immediate need to provide patients and physicians on the frontlines with effective treatments in the fight against the COVID-19 virus and its sequelae.

“The scientific rationale for investigating fostamatinib in COVID-19 pneumonia is based on its demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties and we are pleased to support the hard work being done by our colleagues at Imperial College London.”

Haseeb Ahmad, Country President UK of Novartis, said: “Novartis is deeply dedicated to the global effort to combat COVID-19. In the evaluation of our existing therapies, we identified the potential for ruxolitinib to provide faster recovery times for patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, with fewer patients requiring intensive care and mechanical ventilation.

“We are proud to support the investigational work being done by Imperial College London, as the results will bring benefit to both current and future patients and support our ambition to build a healthier tomorrow by reimagining medicine.”


Mr Al McCartney

Mr Al McCartney
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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Enterprise, REF, Immune-system, Infectious-diseases, Research, Coronavirus
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