BARDA expanded an existing partnership with Genentech, part of Roche Group and headquartered in South San Francisco, to accelerate a Phase 3 clinical trial of Actemra® (tocilizumab) as a potential treatment of patients with severe cases of COVID-19. Currently, Actemra® is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and in more than 100 countries to treat rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.
Patients with COVID-19 are at risk of developing life-threatening respiratory failure, which may be mediated in part by elevated levels of a series of pro-inflammatory molecules, including interleukin-6 (IL-6). Actemra ® is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the IL-6 receptor on normal cells and may improve patient outcomes by decreasing the severe inflammatory response.
Therapeutic treatments, antiviral drugs and vaccines are critical in combating 2019 novel coronavirus infections (COVID-19). BARDA is providing $25 million toward the clinical trial to determine if Actemra ® can reduce the duration of severe illness and hospitalization in a person infected with the novel coronavirus . If found to be safe and effective by the FDA, the therapeutic could be used in conjunction with future COVID-19-specific antiviral therapeutics.