The experimental arthritis drug, otilimab, is being trialled as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The first patient administered with the drug is currently being cared for at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).
The OSCAR study (Otilimab in Severe COVID-19 Related Disease) is sponsored and funded by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
The study at the MRI is being led by Dr. Andy Martin, an Intensive Care and Anaesthesia Consultant.
Dr. 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.
Christopher Corsico, GSK’s Senior Vice President Development, 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 hospitalization or death. We believe that otilimab might be able to help counter or calm this process.
Dr. Tim Felton, honorary consultant, senior lecturer at The University of Manchester and Clinical Lead for all MFT COVID-19-related research studies, leads OSCAR at Wythenshawe Hospital, which is also part of MFT.
Dr. 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.
“I’d like to thank our first OSCAR participant — as well as the thousands of others who have taken part in coronavirus studies at MFT to date — as every participant who takes part in our research is contributing to the coordinated effort to enhance understanding of this global pandemic.”