Patient resting in a hospital bed

NIHR to investigate new potential Covid-19 treatment

A potential new treatment for hospitalised Covid-19 patients, using an anti-inflammatory arthritis drug, is being investigated by the NIHR-supported RECOVERY trial.

As an anti-inflammatory drug, baricitinib could potentially block the signalling activity of cytokine molecules which contribute to the hyper-inflammatory state caused by severe Covid-19 infections.

The researchers will investigate whether the drug reduces the risk of death for patients with Covid-19, whether the treatment reduces hospital stay lengths and whether it can reduce the risk of hospitalised patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

The trial will randomise 2,500 participants to receive baricitinib - with those results then compared against a further 2,500 participants receiving only standard care.

Professor Martin Landray, co-Chief Investigator for the RECOVERY trial from the University of Oxford, said: “Inflammation is a fundamental feature of Covid-19 and the RECOVERY trial has already found that one anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, can reduce deaths in the most severely ill patients with Covid-19.

“Baricitinib is widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

“By including baricitinib in the RECOVERY trial, we will be able to generate robust evidence on whether it helps tackle the worst consequences of Covid-19.”

Professor Peter Horby, co-Chief Investigator, added: “Baricitinib will be the tenth potential Covid-19 treatment to be tested through RECOVERY and we will continue testing new drugs as fast as we possibly can.”

Another arthritis drug treatment, tocilizumab and a second drug called sarilumab, also showed positive signs in improving intensive care Covid-19 patients, as part of the separate REMAP-CAP clinical trial.

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