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EUSA Pharma's COVID-19 drug improves or stabilises respiratory condition in 76% of patients

Published on 02/04/20 at 10:34am

EUSA Pharma has unveiled promising preliminary findings from an interim analysis of siltuximab in the treatment of serious respiratory complications arising from COVID-19, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in patients affected by the novel coronavirus.

Siltuximab is an interleukin (IL)-6 targeted monoclonal antibody which has already secured approval from a number of worldwide regulators including the FDA and EMA for the treatment of multicentric Castleman disease (MCD) in patients who are negative for HIV and herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). 

After a follow-up of seven days, one third of the first 21 patients treated with the therapy saw a clinical improvement with a reduced need of oxygen support, while 43% of patients saw their condition stabilise, ultimately meaning the conditions of 76% of patients had either improved or stabilised by the time of analysis.

However, three patients saw their condition worsen, while one patient died. A further patient experienced a cerebrovascular event. At baseline, 90% of patients displayed a fever, 62% with a dry cough, and 71% with shortness of breath.  

“Whilst we are yet to identify and analyse the control group of patients, these initial data in siltuximab-treated patients provide vital information to guide decisions regarding appropriate use of siltuximab in both the real-world and new COVID-19 studies as we continue to investigate the role IL-6 blockade can play,” explained Professor Alessandro Rambaldi, Study Sponsor-Investigator and Director of the Hematology Unit and Department of Oncology and Hematology at Italy’s Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital.

“Importantly, these preliminary uncontrolled data confirm high levels of IL-6 at baseline, with baseline CRP also high but declining with siltuximab treatment, suggesting a role for monoclonal antibodies as a possible therapeutic strategy for this fatal infectious disease,” he continued. “Further data will be made available on remaining patients, the case-control analysis and 30 day follow-up of mortality as they become available.”

Matt Fellows

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