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Thursday, Jul 18, 2024

Amgen’s Otezla Chosen For COVID-19 Study

Thousand Oaks-based biopharma giant Amgen Inc., which is part of the COVID R&D Alliance consortium of companies, will participate in the initiative’s first COVID-19 patient clinical trial. An Amgen drug is among those to be tested. Called the I-SPY COVID Trial, it will evaluate the efficacy of three drugs on COVID-19 patients who require high-flow oxygen, or respiratory support. The drugs were chosen for their potential to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome. Amgen’s Otezla, a drug used to treat psoriasis, will be tested along with a drug in development by AbbVie that was designed to treat liver fibrosis, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Firazyr, developed to treat hereditary angioedema, a disorder that causes areas of the body to swell, including the airways. The drugs, although used to treat other ailments, are of interest because of their effect on patients who develop severe respiratory problems as a result of COVID. Amgen Chief Executive Robert Bradway hinted at the trial during the company’s earnings call in July. “We are investigating Otezla in multiple platform trials as a potential immunomodulatory treatment in patients hospitalized with viral infection,” he said on the call. “Sick patients in hospitals cannot wait; options are urgently needed. I’m proud to partner with AbbVie and Amgen and the dozens of other companies who have joined the COVID R&D Alliance, to initiate critical platform trials like I-SPY COVID,” added Andy Plump, president of R&D at Takeda in a statement. “The world learned of COVID-19 only six months ago, and the speed at which the scientific community has joined forces to address the critically high unmet need is inspiring.” Otezla, known as a PDE4 inhibitor, works to suppress the immune system, which then reduces inflammation, according to a Healthline report. In turn, the drug may help with lung tissue inflammation caused by acute respiratory syndrome. More drug candidates from other Alliance companies will be introduced in the coming weeks, the organization said in a statement. Trials utilize technology from Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative, a nonprofit organization based in the Bay Area, to speed up results with fewer participants, the Alliance said. “The group is employing adaptive platform trial methodologies that enable the ability to test multiple therapies simultaneously and modify protocols in real time based on outcomes observed,” the organization added. The Alliance, formed in April, is made up of more than 20 biopharmaceutical and life science companies. In addition to designing and sponsoring platform trials, the Alliance is evaluating more than 1,900 preclinical candidates to see which drugs hold the most promise for COVID-19 treatment. The organization connects biotech companies with R&D potential to venture capital firms and pharmaceutical developers for rapid advancement.

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