In yet another hit for IL-6 inhibitors in COVID-19, Sanofi and Regeneron’s Kevzara failed a study in hundreds of severe and critical patients—and the partners are now giving up on the rheumatoid arthritis med as a coronavirus treatment.
In a Tuesday update, Sanofi said that its study of Kevzara in 420 patients in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia and Spain didn’t meet its endpoints. Patients who received the medicine did experience slightly shorter hospital stays and speedier improvements in their condition versus placebo, but the results weren’t statistically significant.
The Kevzara study, like others for Roche’s IL-6 inhibitor Actemra, came from a theory that inhibiting IL-6 may help stave off the potentially deadly cytokine storm associated with some COVID-19 infections. Even though the trial failed, Sanofi is proud of its work advancing knowledge of the disease, R&D chief John Reed said in a statement.
Antibody Blockade Effective in Treatment of Severe COVID-19
As countries around the world race to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, researchers are working to understand exactly how it causes the myriad of symptoms that seem to linger long after active viral infection. In a study published in scientific journal PNAS, researchers led by Osaka University identified an effective treatment for the deadly over-activation of the inflammatory response seen in many severe COVID-19 patients.
Cytokines are a group of small proteins that can either enhance or inhibit our body’s immune response to infection, trauma, and diseases such as cancer. One of their main roles is to stimulate inflammation, which initiates the healing process. The problem is, overstimulation of the inflammatory response has an array of harmful complications, ranging from asthma to severe autoimmune diseases. One such complication, called cytokine release syndrome (CRS), is seen in patients suffering a hyperimmune response to microbial infection or trauma and can lead to multiple organ failure and even death.