As world leaders and governments scramble to contain the effects of the coronavirus as it continues to spread across the globe, there is now also an immediate urgency to develop any effective treatment that can help in the fight against COVID-19. Thankfully there are a number of biotechnology companies putting huge amounts of resources into developing workable solutions. And UK biotech firm Tiziana Life Sciences plc is one such company that may make a difference.
Tiziana have announced that they are expediting the development of an antibody known as TZLS-501 for treating patients already invected with COVID-19 who may experience respiratory failure.
Some patients who are infected with COVID-19 may develop an uncontrollable immune response to the virus, called a cytokine storm. This can severely damage lung tissue which can then go on to lead to respiratory failure. Clinical studies already conducted by doctors in China suggest that the anti-interleukin-6 receptor in the antibody (or anti-IL6R short), could be an effective clinical treatment against COVID-19. China’s National Health Commission has already recommended one drug for the treatment of patients with severe issues from COVID-19, called Actemra, which was first approved for the FDA for rheumatoid arthritis. And there are other anti-IL-6 receptor therapies that are being looked at by biotech companies such as Sanofi and Regeneron.
Tiziana’s anti-IL-6R mAb works by binding to the membrane-bound and soluble forms of IL-6R and reducing circulating levels of IL-6 in the blood. Too much IL-6 in the body is said to be one of the main ways chronic inflammation happens, often leading to lung damage, as already seen in patients with COVID-19.
Tiziana says they plan to administer TZLS-501 using a proprietary formulation technology. And they have already entered into a license for it in 2017 with the Swiss biotech company Novimmune.
Dr. Kunwar Shailubhai, the CEO & CSO of Tiziana Life Sciences, explains why this antibody shows lots of promise:
“We believe that the features of TZLS-501 provide distinct advantages for treatment of COVD-19 over other anti-IL-6R mAbs such as Actemra® and Kevzara® for treatment of COVID-19. The recent decision by researchers in China to add Actemra® to treatment guidelines for coronavirus patients with serious lung damage confirms the utility of anti-IL6R mAb. We are excited to move forward with our clinical development plan to expedite evaluation in patients as soon as possible.”
Doctors and medical staff the world over will hold out hope that this can be an effective treatment for some of those worst affected by COVID-19, and hope that expediting the development of TZLS-501 is fruitful.