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Sanofi and Regeneron Roll Kevzara into COVID-19 Trials

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 31 Mar 2020
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A phase 2/3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial has been initiated to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Kevzara, jointly developed by Sanofi S.A. (Paris, France) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Tarrytown, NY, USA), in adults hospitalized with serious complications from COVID-19. Kevzara is being investigated for its ability to reduce the overactive inflammatory immune response associated with COVID-19 based on evidence of markedly elevated levels of IL-6, an immune system protein, in severely ill patients infected with coronaviruses. The global clinical program has been initiated in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Canada, Russia and the US – all countries that have been impacted by COVID-19. Sanofi is leading trials outside the US, while Regeneron is leading the US trials.

Kevzara is currently approved in multiple countries to treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to or tolerated previous therapy. IL-6 is an immune system protein produced in increased quantities in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and has been associated with disease activity, joint destruction and other systemic problems. Kevzara is a fully-human monoclonal antibody that inhibits the interleukin-6 (IL-6) pathway by binding and blocking the IL-6 receptor.

Scientists have preliminary evidence that IL-6 may play a key role in driving the inflammatory immune response that causes acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients critically ill from COVID-19. In an initial, non-peer-reviewed case series from China, a 21-patient cohort of COVID-19 patients experienced rapidly reduced fevers and 75% of patients (15 out of 20) reduced their need for supplemental oxygen within days of receiving another IL-6 receptor antibody (tocilizumab). Based on these results, China updated its COVID-19 treatment guidelines and approved the use of that IL-6 inhibitor to treat patients with severe or critical disease.

The trial outside of the US will assess the safety and efficacy of adding a single intravenous dose of Kevzara to usual supportive care, compared to supportive care plus placebo. The trial has an adaptive design with two parts and is anticipated to enroll approximately 300 patients. The trial will recruit hospitalized patients from several countries who are severely or critically ill with COVID-19 infection. This is the second multi-center, double-blind, Phase 2/3 trial as part of the Kevzara COVID-19 program, and Sanofi and Regeneron are continuing to work with health authorities around the world to secure initiation at additional sites. This follows their announcement earlier this month of the initiation of the first trial, which is US-based.

“Sanofi and Regeneron are relentlessly working to rapidly initiate trials around the world that will help determine whether Kevzara has the potential to play a role in addressing the COVID-19 global health crisis. These trials will provide important data to determine whether Kevzara ameliorates the life-threatening complications of COVID-19 infections by counteracting the overactive inflammatory responses in the lungs when damaged by the virus. In these unprecedented times, we are deeply grateful for the daily collaboration with health authorities that are enabling us to conduct this clinical work so quickly,” said John Reed, M.D., Ph.D., Sanofi’s Global Head of Research and Development. “In addition to this clinical trial aiming to help critically ill COVID-19 patients, our work continues to bring forth a vaccine for disease prevention, along with efforts to provide other important Sanofi medicines that may help patients impacted by COVID-19.”

“Data from a single-arm study in China suggest that the interleukin-6 pathway may play an important role in the overactive inflammatory response in the lungs of patients with COVID-19. Despite this encouraging finding, it's imperative to conduct a properly designed, randomized trial to understand the true impact of Kevzara, which we are now doing through this global clinical trial program,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “In addition to the Kevzara program, Regeneron continues to rapidly advance a novel antibody cocktail for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.”

Related Links:
Sanofi S.A.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.



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