Cytokine storms (cytokine response syndrome), associated with an excessive and abnormal inflammatory response, are believed to be the cause of most deaths of patients with COVID-19 infection. If there was a way to reduce or even stop this phenomenon, could more lives be saved? That is the thinking of a clinical-state Australian oncology drug development company called Noxopharm. In collaboration with Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, researchers have found an active ingredient called idronoxil inhibitors, a range of inflammatory mediators known as cytokines, including interleukin-6 (IL-6)— the process involved with the cytokine storm.
TrialSite News offers a brief breakdown summary of a recent news release.
The COVID-19 Killer: The Cytokine Storm
As the pandemic unfolds, approaching 1 million cases and 48,320 deaths worldwide, the pathogen has three-fold mortality rate than standard influenza. Although most research and clinical trials focus on antivirals and vaccines, accumulating evidence suggests that a subgroup of patients with severe COVID-19 might have a cytokine storm syndrome. Hence, prominent UK-based researchers, for example, are calling for the identification and treatment of hyperinflammation using existing approved therapies, with proven safety profiles to address immediate need to reduce rising morality.
Observation Down Under: Potent Inhibitor of IL-6 in Context of ARDS
Now, preclinical researchers at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research https://hudson.org.au/have found that an active ingredient in Noxopharm’s cancer drug Veyonda® called idronoxil actually acts as a potent inhibitor of IL-6 production concerning acute respiratory distress syndrome, reported Dr. Michael Gantier, Head of Nucleic Acids and Innate Immunity Laboratory, in a recent press release issued by the company. Dr. Gantier notes, “However, unlike strategies of targeting IL-6 itself, our findings suggest that idronoxil blocks the process of IL-6 production along with that of other key mediators of organ failure.”
Noxopharm Potential Clinical Trial
Noxopharm reports in their recent press release that they will pursue a potential clinical trial to evaluate the use of idronoxil in patients considering to be at risk of development COVID-19 associated respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multi-organ failure. Currently under development as a treatment for late-stage prostate cancer, Dr. Graham Kelly, CEO of Noxopharm, reports that of course will rapidly look at this new avenue of development “when you are told by respected scientists that your lead drug candidate is working in a way that might prevent thousands of deaths in a global pandemic, you don’t walk away from that possibility. Having idronoxil already in the clinic means that we are in a position to commence clinical testing.”
Who is Noxopharm?
Based in Australia with offices in New York as well, the company is a clinical-stage drug development venture with a primary focus on the development of Veyonda—they are also a major shareholder in the non-oncology drug development company Nyrada, Inc.
Founded in 2015, the company has raised a total of $26m Australian and is publicly traded (NOX). We include their latest annual report here.