This new COVID-19 drug could effectively treat severe disease

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In a new study from Avalo Therapeutics, researchers found a much higher proportion of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 remained alive and free of respiratory failure for 28 days after receiving treatment with a new antibody called CERC-002.

Unlike other experimental COVID therapies, CERC-002 does not target the virus itself, instead targeting the immune response associated with the virus to stop the disease from progressing before it becomes fatal.

In the United States, over 800,000 people have died from COVID-19. A large proportion of these deaths have been among the elderly or those who are immunocompromised due to a preexisting condition.

And while three-quarters of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, many remain unvaccinated.

Most people with COVID-19 experience few to no symptoms.

However, elderly individuals, people with a concurrent health condition or those who are immunocompromised are susceptible to a condition called a cytokine storm, in which their own immune molecules called cytokines flood the body in higher concentrations than usual.

Rather than helping fight the virus, these extra immune molecules wreak havoc, causing patients to develop the deadly respiratory failure characteristic of severe COVID disease.

The new treatment, CERC-002, is a cytokine neutralizer—an immune molecule that recognizes and deactivates a cytokine known as LIGHT, which is elevated in patients with COVID-19.

Cytokine neutralization drugs are currently being tested in the clinic, but they are mainly effective in severely ill patients who are already on a ventilator or other organ support.

This new drug targets the cytokine immune response early enough to stop it in its tracks, which no other treatment does right now.

In the study, the team tested 83 COVID patients, half receiving the treatment, and half receiving a placebo.

All patients were hospitalized with mild-to-moderate respiratory distress and were also receiving standard-of-care therapy during the trial.

They found that 83.9% of patients who received a dose of CERC-002 on top of standard of care remained alive and free from respiratory distress for 28 days. For patients receiving placebo, the number was only 64.5%.

As a phase 2 clinical trial, the purpose of this study was to test whether the compound has therapeutic potential in a small number of patients.

Now that the drug has proven successful at a small scale, it can be tested on a larger number of patients to ensure its benefits are consistent across the population.

Additionally, because CEC-002 targets the immune response in COVID cases rather than the virus itself, the compound may have applications that extend beyond COVID.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about new drug that could prevent COVID-19,

and two paths toward ‘super immunity’ to COVID-19.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about antibodies that can neutralize Omicron, and results showing this drug treatment may prevent COVID death and lung damage.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and was conducted by Carl F. Ware et al.

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