Scotland to begin its first clinical trial of a drug to treat the severe respiratory damage caused by lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients

  • Experts from Dundee will be teaming up with US biopharmaceutical firm Insmed
  • They will recruit 300 coronavirus patients into the trial of brensocatib from May
  • Brensocatib reduces inflammation in people with underlying lung conditions 
  • The team will asses if it can also be of relief to patients suffering from COVID-19
  • Lung inflammation has the potential to lead to both respiratory failure and death 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Scotland will soon begin its first clinical trial of a drug to treat the severe respiratory damage caused by lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients.

Researchers from the University of Dundee will conduct trials of brensocatib — formerly known as INS1007 — to tackle lung inflammation caused by the virus.

Although COVID-19 infections are mild in most people, up to 20 per cent of patients develop lung inflammation and may end up needing a ventilator to breathe.

It is the body’s own inflammatory response — designed to clear the virus — which causes the lung damage that can even lead to respiratory failure and death.

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Scotland will soon begin its first clinical trial of a drug to treat the severe respiratory damage caused by lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients. Researchers from the University of Dundee will conduct trials of brensocatib to tackle lung inflammation caused by the virus

As part of the STOP-COVID19 trial, the team will explore whether brensocatib can reduce the incidence of acute lung injury and the need for mechanical ventilation.

It is hoped that the treatment will lead to patients spending fewer days dependent on oxygen and less time in hospital, reducing the burden on healthcare systems.

STOP-COVID19 is one of the studies into the novel coronavirus that has been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Trials conducted to date have shown that brensocatib reduces inflammation in the lungs of people with underlying lung conditions — so it is hoped that the drug will have a similarly beneficial effect in those suffering from COVID-19.

Beginning in early May, the university will recruit 300 volunteers from ten hospitals across the UK, with patients offered the chance to participate immediately after receiving a positive diagnosis for coronavirus.

Half this number will receive brensocatib in addition to standard hospital care, while the other half will receive a placebo instead.

‘High rates of patients requiring ventilation and overwhelming intensive care unit capacity has been a major cause of excess deaths around the world,’ said lead researcher James Chalmers of the University of Dundee.

‘We hope that brensocatib can put a brake on the devastation this disease causes — to literally stop COVID-19 when it begins attacking the lungs,’ added Professor Chalmers, who is also a respiratory physician at Ninewells Hospital, a trial site.

‘The medical community has never faced a more urgent need for treatment than the unprecedented situation we face today with COVID-19.’

‘The mechanism of action of brensocatib observed in a study in bronchiectasis patients provides a strong rationale for evaluating this novel treatment candidate in other neutrophil-driven inflammatory conditions.’

‘It is my hope that it will have applicability in patients at risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome — a devastating outcome of COVID-19 for which there are currently no approved therapies.’

Although COVID-19 infections are mild in most people, up to 20 per cent of patients develop lung inflammation and may end up needing a ventilator to breathe. It is the body’s own inflammatory response — designed to clear the virus — which causes the lung damage that can even lead to respiratory failure and death

The Dundee researchers will be teaming up with the US-based biopharmaceutical company Insmed, at which Martina Flammer is chief medical officer.

‘The global COVID-19 pandemic has generated an extraordinary response from the biopharmaceutical industry to bring to bear all potential means of fighting this disease and preventing its most severe outcomes,’ Dr Flammer said.

‘At the start of the outbreak, Insmed began pursuing an in vivo mouse model to better understand the potential of brensocatib in preventing acute respiratory distress syndrome.’

‘We are very pleased to support Professor James Chalmers and the University of Dundee in leading a controlled clinical trial that will help us evaluate the potential impact of brensocatib on hospitalised patients suffering from severe COVID-19.’

‘This is the first Scottish-led drug trial into COVID-19 and it has been prioritised and designated as an urgent public health study,’ added study investigator and NHS Tayside R&D director Jacob George.

‘Tayside can be justifiably proud of this and we look forward to collaborating with other NHS Boards in Scotland to recruit eligible patients onto the trial.’

 

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