A man from Manchester has become the first UK patient to be given a new experimental treatment for the treatment of severe coronavirus.
In addition to regular treatment in an intensive care unit, Farhan Hamid, 41, has been given a dose of otilimab – a drug being tested as a potential for rheumatoid arthritis.
The Manchester Royal Infirmary patient was recruited on September 11, 2020 to take part in a trial to see if the medicine could also treat severe lung disease associated with Covid-19.
It is part of the Oscar (Otilimab in Severe Covid-19 Related Disease) study, funded by UK pharmaceutical giant by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who have also been contracted by the Government to develop a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Leading the Manchester Royal Infirmary trial, intensive care and anaesthesia consultant Andy Martin said: ‘The patients eligible to take part in this study are those experiencing very severe lung difficulties due to Covid-19 infection and are receiving oxygen or ventilator support.
‘We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab – which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – could also potentially ease the effect of coronavirus on the lungs, dampening the impact of the virus on the immune system.’
Oscar is one of a number of Covid-19 studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care, with trials already underway in the US.
There are plans to recruit 800 patients globally for the study, and GSK has said it is aiming to conduct research at five hospitals in the UK.
Those taking part will be allocated into two groups at random, with half receiving a one-hour, single infusion of otilimab.
Meanwhile others will get a placebo intravenous therapy in addition to standard care.
University of Manchester senior lecturer and clinical lead for all Covid-19-related studies at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust Dr Tim Felton said: ‘The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days – so this research is potentially life-saving.’
Senior vice president development at GSK Christopher Corsico said: ‘We are continuing to work hard to find solutions to address the pandemic, including exploring potential treatment options for Covid-19 patients.
‘We know that some Covid-19 patients experience an overreaction of their immune system – sometimes referred to as cytokine storm – which can lead to hospitalisation or death.
‘We believe that otilimab might be able to help counter or calm this process.’
The results from the study are expected in the first half of 2021.
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