Regeneron, Sanofi may test arthritis drug to treat COVID-19

Regeneron and Sanofi are working to launch clinical trials to see if a drug they co-developed can help treat symptoms of COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reported

The drug, Kevzara, was FDA-approved in 2017 to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but the drugmakers said it could also help minimize damage to the lungs and respiratory system caused by the immune system's response to the new coronavirus. The drug wouldn't, however, treat the underlying virus. 

The drugmakers think Kevzara could be effective against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, because of a report from Chinese researchers that a similar drug from Roche, called Actemra, helped a small group of COVID-19 patients recover, according to the Journal

Both drugs block proteins called  interleukin-6, or IL-6, which trigger the body's immune and inflammatory response. Blocking the proteins could stop the body from attacking itself, the Journal reported. 

Regeneron's chief scientific officer, George Yancopoulos, told the Journal that it is hoping to start the trial in the next couple of weeks. The drugmaker reportedly is holding talks with the FDA, New York's health commissioner and hospitals to set up the trial. 

The trial would only study the drug's response in patients with severe to critical COVID-19 cases. 

Sanofi, based in Paris, also hopes to begin a clinical trial overseas as soon as possible, the Journal reported. 

Read the full article here

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