First patient treated in test of a COVID-19 drug that a Covington-based research firm is conducting

The first patient has been dosed with a new drug to treat COVID-19 infection in a study that a Covington-based research firm is participating in.

CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services is participating in the study of a drug called lenzilumab that may treat the breathing problems that afflict many patients infected with the virus.

CTI is working Humanigen, Inc., a Burlingame, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company that has developed the drug. It is designed to prevent and treat the so-called “cytokine storm” that can result in death from the viral infection.

The dosing of the first patient in the trial is a milestone in the research.

“To have a patient dosed in such a short time from planning to initiating a trial was inconceivable prior to this pandemic,” says
Tim Schroeder, founder and CEO of CTI.

The cytokine storm is part of the body’s immune response that results in the overwhelming release of cells to fight the invasive virus. If this occurs in the lungs, the release of proteins called cytokines can, in some patients, be so uncontrolled that it results in hyperinflammation that can kill the patient.

Cytokine storms are a common complication of COVID-19, the flu, and other respiratory diseases.

The study is a randomized, controlled, clinical trial to see if the drug can prevent acute respiratory distress and death in patients who are hospitalized with pneumonia due to a COVID-19 infection.

“We have been working on prevention of cytokine storm for nearly three years,” says Dr. Cameron Durrant, CEO of Humanigen.

CTI is a privately held, contract research organization headquartered in the RiverCenter complex on the Covington riverfront. It specializes in clinical trial services, regulatory affairs and consulting throughout the development cycle of pharmaceuticals.

“The COVID-19 pandemic demands an unprecedented response from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology communities, requiring innovation, collaboration, and prioritization of speed without the cost of safety,” Schroeder says.

Continued COVID-19 coverage has been supported by a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, a program run in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Local Media Association.





Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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