Covid-19 medicine: First patient treated in Leiden company's clinical trial
Pharming, a biotechnology company based in Leiden, has launched its clinical trial for a medicine that could be effective in treating Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The first of 150 patients has started treatment with Ruconest, the company announced on Monday.
The medication is being tested on patients who develop severe pneumonia as a result of the coronavirus disease. "Systemic hyperinflammation is a hallmark of more severe stages of COVID-19 leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome, mechanical ventilation and ultimately death," the company said in a statement. It hoped that the drug would dampen an out of control immune system response, thus preventing the extent of lung damage, reduce the chance of pulmonary edema, and prevent some clots from forming.
Pharming is working with the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland for this clinical trial. The first patient treated in this trial is also located in Basel.
The company launched this expanded trial after a small experiment with five patients had "encouraging results" in April. Four of the five seriously ill patients' fever disappeared within 48 hours of treatment, and they were released from the hospital as fully recovered a short time later.
The fifth patient had to be admitted to intensive care to be intubated, but also went on to a full recovery, the pharmaceutical firm said.
Pharming said a successful clinical trial with Covid-19 patients could also lead to tests on patients with other diseases linked to hyperinflammatory syndrome and ultimately result in severe respiratory problems and organ failure complications.
Ruconest is an anti-inflammatory agent that predates the coronavirus crisis. It was developed to treat hereditary angioedema - acute inflammatory attacks that cause sudden swelling which can be very painful, or even fatal.