An anti-inflammatory compound has shown promise in treating systemic inflammation and brain injury in patients with severe COVID-19. The corresponding study was published in Science Translational Medicine.
Hyperinflammation triggered by SARS-CoV-2 is a life-threatening condition and a major cause of disease severity in COVID-19. It involves the excessive activation of multiple immune pathways that can lead to tissue damage, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and multi-organ failure.
In the current study, researchers conducted a Phase 2a clinical study to see whether OP-101, an experimental anti-inflammatory nanotherapeutic, could treat hyper inflammation from COVID-19. To do so, they enrolled 24 patients classified as having 'severe' COVID-19 according to the World Health Organization's seven-point ordinal scale (WHO 7OS), and randomized them to receive either a placebo or different doses of OP-101.
In the end, the researchers noted that OP-101 reduced inflammatory markers and markers of neurological injury more effectively than placebo treatments. They additionally found that whereas 71% of patients on the placebo required mechanical ventilation or died after 30 or 60 days of treatment, the same was true for just 18% of patients treated with OP-101.
The researchers further found that 60 days post-treatment, whereas only 3 of 7 patients on placebos survived, the same was true for 14 of 17 patients treated with OP-101.
"Although this was a small-dose escalation trial, there was clearly a strong signal toward benefit at both acute and chronic time point," said Aaron M. Gusdon, MD, assistant professor in the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, first author of the study.
"The possibility that this therapy could also benefit patients with other diseases that lead to systemic inflammatory responses, including various forms of brain injury, is extremely exciting," he added.
The researchers note that while their findings are promising, their sample size was small, meaning that a larger study is needed to further evaluate the safety and efficacy of OP-101 in severe COVID-19.