A drug used to successfully treat HIV infections has been repurposed to treat moderate and critically ill COVID-19 patients with both short term and long-term illness. In a recent study at UCLA centers at Westwood and Santa Monica, Leronlimab, a monoclonal antibody blocker, was given to severely ill COVID-19 patients as an open label compassionate use therapy. The researchers concluded that the drug was safe and effective, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
”Leronlimab appeared safe and well tolerated,” the study authors wrote. ”The high recovery rate suggested benefit, and those with lower inflammatory markers had better outcomes. Some but not all patients appeared to have dramatic clinical responses.”
CytoDyn, the biotechnology company that manufacturers Leronlimab, says its drug has saved many lives, including those of COVID-19 patients who did not respond to other drugs, such as Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine.
Dr. Nader Pourhassan, CEO of CytoDyn, told Newsmax that a 52-year-old woman and a patient of UCLA’s Dr. Otto Yang, was given no chance of survival until she took the drug and now publicly credits it for saving her life.
According to a news release from CytoDyn, the company stated it also filed a protocol with the FDA for a Phase 2 clinical trial to use the drug to help the approximately 10% of COVID-19 patients who develop long-term symptoms of the disease.
Pourhassan said, ”If successful, this Phase 2 trial could potentially allow Leronlimab to be the first treatment for patients experiencing these debilitating symptoms and perhaps their only hope for full recovery. We have become very knowledgeable of Leronlimab’s potential for COVID-19 patients due to our completed Phase 2 trial for mild-to-moderate symptoms.”
Yang, one of the UCLA researchers, says that Leronlimab works by blocking the key cell receptor CCR5 that causes inflammation.
”The hope is that Leronlimab stops CCR5 function so that immune cells stop pouring into the lungs and causing damage,” he said, according to KNBC-TV Los Angeles.
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