A partnership between the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and biotechnology company Genentech will yield a phase 2 clinical trial to evaluate two investigational drugs for the treatment of severe COVID-19 cases: anti-ST2 and IL-22-Fc.
The drugs will be tested on approximately 300 patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia that has forced them to take supplemental oxygen. The evaluation will materialize in the form of a single, randomized placebo controlled study of safety. While both drugs have the potential to prevent COVID-19 pneumonia from progressing into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), their efficacy has yet to be confirmed.
No treatments for ARDS caused by COVID-19 pneumonia are currently approved for use.
In this case, the drugs could work together to achieve this. IL-22 is a cytokine that encourages both epithelial and endothelial cell repair in the body, and in the process, could possibly prevent secondary bacterial infections. ST2 is a receptor for IL-33. By inhibiting ST2, one could inhibit IL-33 signaling, something the partners believe could reduce maladaptive hyperinflammatory responses.