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April 29, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – Shionogi joins research efforts against Covid-19 – Roche’s Actemra performs well in severe patients

By Allie Nawrat

29 April 2020 

Novartis is set to conduct a Phase III clinical trial to assess canakinumab in Covid-19 patients with pneumonia. Canakinumab is an interleukin (IL)-1β blocker and is expected to help address the severe immune overreaction, known as cytokine release syndrome, Covid-19 causes in patients.

Pfizer has begun to restart clinical trial enrolment across its development portfolio, including new studies, at all sites that are currently active. The company temporarily stopped the recruitment for some studies and delayed several new study starts amid Covid-19 pandemic last month. The company is also continuing its efforts to develop treatments and vaccine against Covid-19.

Early data from a clinical trial in France has demonstrated encouraging profile of Roche unit Genentech’s rheumatoid arthritis drug tocilizumab (Actemra) to treat seriously ill Covid-19 patients. The study, which was conducted by the Paris university hospital trust (AP-HP), showed that the drug was able to ‘significantly’ decrease the number of deaths or life support interventions when compared to a control group.

University of St Andrews spin-out Pneumagen has reported positive findings from three in-vitro studies of Neumifil and other multivalent carbohydrate binding modules (mCBMs) to prevent infection by coronaviruses. The mCBMs, based on the company’s GlycoTarge platform, led to decrease in the number of SARS-CoV-2 plaques when tested using plaque reduction assays.

Japanese company Shionogi is working to identify potential treatments and vaccines against Covid-19. In alliance with the Hokkaido University Research Center for Zoonosis Contro, the company discovered multiple lead compounds during in-house in-vitro studies. Meanwhile, Shionogi group company UMN Pharma is leveraging its Baculovirus Expression Vector System technology to potentially identify and develop a recombinant protein vaccine against the coronavirus infection.

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