Human trials approved for B.C. drug company to treat COVID-19
A Vancouver-based drug repurposing company will conduct human trials on patients with acute lung injury in the U.S. and Canada.
Chris Moreau, CEO of Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc., said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s application on June 3 for a human study of its repurposed drug Ifenprodil as a potential therapeutic treatment for patients with COVID-19.
Moreau said a doctor-led human trial of the drug was about to start in South Korea, but the planned trial in Canada, the U.S. and possibly Australia would be larger and led by Algernon and participating research hospitals.
Ifenprodil is a generic drug developed in the early 1970s and approved for human use in Japan and South Korea to treat neurological conditions like vertigo. Algernon has filed a method of use patent on the drug and now has exclusive rights.
Moreau said that in early March the company found a Chinese study of Ifenprodil on mice infected with the H5N1 virus — the world’s most lethal flu — that showed improved survivability and reduced lung injury, particularly with the cytokine storm that leads to the loss of lung function among COVID-19 infected patients.
“If we see Ifenprodil acting this way in an animal study for H5N1 we may expect to see similar results in a human study for COVID,” he said.
Moreau said the phase two human trial would be among 100 COVID-19 patients in acute-care settings in research hospitals in Canada and the U.S. and was expected to start within two months. The patients will get the drug two times a day for three weeks through intravenous fluid.
If that trial is a success, a phase three trial on a larger group of patients would go ahead in September.
Moreau said that if all trials work the drug could be available in the first three months of 2021.
Algernon shares on the Canadian Stock Exchange have gone from nine cents on March 5 to 35 cents on June 5.
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