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Human Trial of Pill That Could Reduce COVID-19 Related Lung Damage Begins At First US Clinical Trial Site

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 Aug 2020
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Ifenprodil, a drug in pill form repurposed by Algernon Pharmaceuticals (Vancouver, BC, Canada) to treat COVID-19 damage in the lungs, is being tested as a possible treatment on coronavirus patients for the first time in the US.

The Westchester General Hospital in Miami, Florida, is the first American research center to test the Ifenprodil pill that was developed in the 1970s to treat blood circulation disorders and could help reduce some COVID-19 side-effects in the lungs. Ifenprodil is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist specifically targeting the NMDA-type subunit 2B (Glu2NB) and prevents glutamate signaling. The NMDA receptor is found on several tissues, including lung cells, T-cells, and neutrophils.

Algernon began exploring Ifenprodil (NP-120) as a possible treatment for COVID-19 when it discovered an independent research study that showed the drug was active in an animal model for H5N1, the world’s most lethal avian flu, with an approximately 60% mortality rate in humans. In the study, Ifenprodil reduced mortality by 40% and reduced acute lung injury and inflammation in the lung tissue. Following its own animal data showing Ifenprodil’s reduction of lung fibrosis in two separate studies, the company is investigating Ifenprodil to determine if it can reduce the severity and duration of a COVID infection. Algernon believes that Ifenprodil can reduce the infiltration of neutrophils and T-cells into the lungs where they can release glutamate and cytokines respectively. The latter can result in the highly problematic cytokine storm that contributes to the loss of lung function and ultimately death as has been reported in COVID-19 infected patients.

Algernon has completed its clinical trial agreement with Westchester Research Center at Westchester General Hospital in Miami, Florida, for its multinational Phase 2b/3 human study of Ifenprodil for COVID-19 and is in final contractual negotiations with four additional US clinical sites. The company has already received ethics approval from a central institutional review board for all of the US study sites. The company is also in the final stages of completing contractual negotiations and receiving ethics approval in Australia, Romania and the Philippines.

“Of the five US research institutions we have been working with, two are located in Florida where they have recently had a significant number of confirmed COVID-19 cases,” said Christopher J. Moreau CEO of Algernon Pharmaceuticals. “We look forward to working with Dr. Gonzalez and appreciate her work in helping to get the trial started at Westchester General as soon as possible.”

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Algernon Pharmaceuticals


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