While everyone is talking about the malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate, Zinc and Azithromycin (Z-Pak) in treating coronavirus patients, CytoDyn, a Vancouver, Canada-based company, has been busy working on antibody drug to help patients having respiratory complications from COVID-19. Leronlimab, a drug originally intended for cancer and HIV patients, is designed to help immune systems.
Cytodyn, a late-stage biotechnology company developing leronlimab, announced the three-day results post-leronlimab treatment of the first four patients under an Emergency Investigational New Drug (EIND) granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A total of seven patients have been enrolled thus far under EIND in the same leading medical center in the New York City area. The drug is currently in the testing phase. The FDA has granted a “Fast Track” designation to CytoDyn for two potential indications of leronlimab for deadly diseases.
So far, the result looks very promising. The antibody drug was used in seven patients with severe COVID-19 demonstrated promise with two intubated patients in ICU, removed from ICU and extubated with reduced pulmonary inflammation.
“The coronavirus kills people because of acute respiratory distress in the lungs, because of inflammation in the lungs. Our drugs will take the inflammation down immediately,” said Nader Pourhassan, president and CEO of CytoDyn. “One of the patients became alert and extubated — they took the tube out — didn’t need a ventilator anymore. This happened in three days,” Pourhassan said.
The treatment with leronlimab is targeted as a therapy for patients who experience respiratory complications as a result of contracting SARS-CoV-2 causing the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Leronlimab is believed to provide therapeutic benefit by enhancing the immune response while mitigating the “cytokine storm” that leads to morbidity and mortality in these patients.
Bruce Patterson, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and founder of IncellDx, a diagnostic partner and advisor to CytoDyn, said, “IncellDx has developed specific companion diagnostic tests to determine the efficacy and dosing of leronlimab in these severe cases of COVID-19. We found that patients with severe COVID-19 disease are in the midst of immunologic chaos which includes the cytokine storm. Our companion diagnostics showed that after three days of therapy, the immune profile in these patients approached normal levels and the levels of cytokines involved in the cytokine storm were much improved.”
Jacob Lalezari, M.D., Interim Chief Medical Officer of CytoDyn, said, “These preliminary results give hope that leronlimab may help hospitalized patients with COVID-19 recover from the pulmonary inflammation that drives mortality and the need for ventilators. A leading medical center in the heart of the New York City epidemic was instrumental in giving the preliminary data.”
Nader Pourhassan, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of CytoDyn said: “We are extremely pleased for the coronavirus patients under the care of the treating medical team and that the FDA is so responsive to advance our Phase 2 clinical trial. I am very hopeful that leronlimab can help to reduce the rate of mortality among COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms of ARDS and to assist our government to fight this battle.”