Celltrion Healthcare is a distribution unit of leading Korean biopharmaceutical company, Celltrion Ltd., located at Incheon, South Korea.
The trial will take place in collaboration with four UK healthcare institutions, namely NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Center, Oxford NIHR BRC, University Hospital of Birmingham, and UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre in London.
A company official said that the clinical trials include the use of Remsima, a clinically approved drug with anti-inflammatory properties immediately starting with Covid-19 patients. The trial aims to detect if the drug can be used to hinder inflammation in severe cases and enhance the recovery process of Covid-19 patients.
Sir Marc Feldmann, Senior Research Fellow at Somerville College and Immunology Professor at Oxford University, would lead the trials. According to Feldmann, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) could be found in the blood and tissues of Covid-19 patients. TNF acts as an amplifier of inflammation in patients, and thus an anti-TNF- α therapy should be used to treat COVID-19.
In an article published in the Lancet last April 9, 202, Feldmann said that an anti-TNF therapy should be assessed in COVID-19 patients upon admission to the hospital to inhibit the development of the disease and prevent the patient from transferring to intensive care support. An anti-TNF antibody should be given to patients two days after being admitted to the hospital to avoid exacerbation of viral pneumonia.
On the other hand, the utmost caution should be exercised in carrying out the clinical trial. According to Feldmann, there could be a possibility of a compromise between drug immunity and virus clearance with the use of a powerful anti-inflammatory drug. It could also lead to other bacterial infections while alleviating inflammation.
Celltrion Healthcare contacted Feldmann and proposed to supply him with the anti-TNF antibody Remsima for his research. Initially developed by Johnson & Johnson, Remsima is a biosimilar of Remicade, an infliximab used to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.