Celltrion Healthcare said Thursday it will begin clinical trials of its anti-inflammatory drug Remsima on COVID-19 patients in the UK this month.
“As Remsima is an approved drug, the clinical trials will directly begin on infected COVID-19 patients,” a Celltrion Healthcare official told The Korea Herald.
Four UK health care institutions -- University Hospital of Birmingham, NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford NIHR BRC and UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre in London -- will participate in the clinical tests.
The lead researcher for the study is Marc Feldmann, a researcher of rheumatology at Oxford University.
Feldmann recently published an article dated April 9, 2020, in medical journal the Lancet that anti-tumor necrosis factor may alleviate inflammation in COVID-19 patients.
“TNF is present in blood and disease tissues of patients with COVID-19, and TNF is important in nearly all acute inflammatory reactions, acting as an amplifier of inflammation,” he wrote.
“We propose that anti-TNF therapy should be evaluated in patients with COVID-19 on hospital admission to prevent progression to intensive care support.”
Feldmann is of the view that if the anti-TNF antibody is administered early during treatment, it will work faster to prevent worsening of viral pneumonia. He suggested that it should be administered to patients two days after hospital admission.
However, the clinical test must be carried out cautiously, as there remains the possibility that the use of powerful anti-inflammatory drugs in acute viral diseases may result in a trade-off between immunity and virus clearance that could cause other bacterial infections, he wrote.
Celltrion Healthcare reached out to Feldmann upon seeing his article, offering to supply him with the anti-TNF antibody Remsima.
The company is the logistics and marketing arm of Celltrion, a homegrown biologics drug manufacturer based in Incheon.
Remsima is Celltrion’s biosimilar of Remicade, an infliximab original developed by Johnson & Johnson. It is currently approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
It is not known if Feldmann is simultaneously testing a variety of infliximab anti-TNF antibodies.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org