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AbbVie, Amgen and Takeda team up for joint COVID-19 trial

Collaborative trial will evaluate three anti-inflammatory drugs


AbbVie, Amgen and Takeda have joined forces for a clinical trial which will evaluate each company’s respective anti-inflammatory drugs in COVID-19.

The I-SPY COVID-19 trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of AbbVie’s experimental CCR2 and CCR5 inhibitor cenicriviroc, Amgen’s psoriasis treatment Otezla (apremilast) and Takeda’s hereditary angioedema drug Firazyr (icatibant) in COVID-19 patients.

The three drugs were selected for the joint trial because of their anti-inflammatory properties, with the hope that they can potentially impact the immune system response of COVID-19 patients who require respiratory support.

The partner companies will evaluate the ability of the drugs to reduce or mitigate the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is observed in around 10-15% of COVID-19 patients.

AbbVie, Amgen and Takeda are all members of the COVID R&D Alliance, a cooperative of over 20 pharma and life sciences companies working together in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

As part of the alliance, members are sharing clinical trial data and real-world evidence, as well as crowd-sourcing early-stage candidates to identify mechanisms or treatments that could be effective against COVID-19.

"The world learned of COVID-19 only six months ago, and the speed at which the scientific community has joined forces to address the critically high unmet need is inspiring,” said Andy Plump, president of R&D at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and co-founder of the COVID R&D Alliance.

“Together, experts across our companies and industry can accelerate trials with promising, well-understood therapies that upon investigation, may show efficacy in this devastating disease," he added.

The joint trial is just the latest in a growing trend of pharma companies repurposing existing drugs and experimental candidates as potential treatments for COVID-19. This includes Gilead’s investigational antiviral drug remdesivir, which the company had originally been evaluating as a treatment for Ebola virus disease.

Unfortunately, not all efforts to repurpose drugs have proved successful, with AbbVie’s Kaletra HIV treatment (lopinavir/ritonavir) failing to show efficacy against the virus. A number of other anti-inflammatory drugs have also failed to hit the mark in COVID-19, including Sanofi/Regeneron’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara (sarilumab) and Roche’s Actemra (tocilizumab).

Despite the mixed results for anti-inflammatories as a treatment for COVID-19, there is still a significant focus on the potential of these drugs, particularly in combination with other therapies. This includes remdesivir, and Gilead is planning combination studies of the antiviral drug when taken alongside Eli Lilly’s JAK inhibitor Olumiant (baricitinib) and Actemra.

French biotech company Abivax is also currently investigating its experimental ulcerative colitis drug ABX464 as an early treatment for elderly or high-risk patients with COVID-19.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

4th August 2020

From: Research



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