Coronavirus lung treatment could be ready in weeks

March 23, 2020
It’s Monday. We hope you were able to find a little enjoyment and peace over the weekend. Today, we have the perfect thing for your solitary walks in the park: a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, taking a look at Regeneron's innovative work to treat COVID-19…
BIO

It’s Monday. We hope you were able to find a little enjoyment and peace over the weekend. 

Today, we have the perfect thing for your solitary walks in the park: a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, taking a look at Regeneron's innovative work to treat COVID-19 symptoms. And as discussions continue on the Hill about the coronavirus bailout package, we have some thoughts about the role of Sustainable Aviation Fuels and the intersection of the economy, climate change, and public health.

Here are around 930 words, or 4 minutes, 40 seconds.

Regeneron innovations show promise in treating worst COVID-19 symptoms

Regeneron has started testing their powerful rheumatoid arthritis drug to see if it’s effective on patients with coronavirus-related lung inflammation. In today’s episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, BIO CEO Jim Greenwood talked to Dr. George Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s President, Co-Founder, and Chief Scientific Officer, about how the company is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regeneron initiated a clinical trial of Kevzara—in record time. The drug reduces inflammation in joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and they think it might reduce inflammation in the lungs caused by COVID-19, too. 

The trial is underway in the U.S. and follows anecdotal reports out of Wuhan, where they tried multiple antivirals and found rheumatoid arthritis drugs might treat the autoinflammatory reaction of the lung that’s triggered by the coronavirus, in which the body essentially attacks itself.

And if it works—we could have definitive answers in a few weeks—it could keep some of the sickest from progressing to respirators or dying. Approval would allow the company to scale up manufacturing of the biologic so hospitals have stockpiles on hand to help patients stay off respirators. 

The company also plans to test a preventive antibody cocktail by June—which could act as a “surrogate for a vaccine” until one’s available by creating antibodies to protect the patient. The shot would need to be taken every month or two. 

To learn more about these innovations and for more insights on this health crisis from a passionate biotech innovator, listen to the whole podcast at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcast fix. Apple, GoogleSpotify...

Background:

  • BioPharma Dive: Regeneron and Sanofi speed Kevzara into coronavirus trials
  • CNBC: Regeneron to treat coronavirus patients this week in trial using its rheumatoid arthritis drug
  • STAT: Regeneron says potential Covid-19 drugs could start human tests by early summer

 

More Health Care News: 

BioCentury: Former FDA Commissioners Gottlieb and McClellan propose actions to speed COVID-19 countermeasures
“FDA should create task forces to facilitate the rapid development of point-of-care diagnostics, therapeutics and prophylactics for COVID-19, former FDA Commissioners Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan recommended in a working paper released Thursday.” 

CBS: In clinical trials and laboratories, the hunt is on to find vaccines and drugs to treat, prevent novel coronavirus
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus has prompted medical researchers worldwide to go on the offense and look for vaccines and treatments. 60 Minutes takes a look. 

POLITICO: Why the push for a quick coronavirus vaccine could backfire
“'There’s a lot of hope for a [coronavirus] vaccine but there obviously has to be a lot of caution,’ said Kathryn Edwards, a Vanderbilt University pediatrician who helped test vaccines against whooping cough, pneumonia, flu and other diseases.”

The New York Times: Scientists identify 69 drugs to test against the coronavirus
“Some of the medications are already used to treat other diseases, and repurposing them to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, may be faster than trying to invent a new antiviral from scratch, the scientists said.”

 
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How SAF could help the economy, the environment, and public health

As Congress continues work on the trillion-dollar economic stimulus package, there’s been much debate about how to assist the hard-hit airline industry. But, tackling air pollution remains a critical priority, too—especially since poor air quality increases the risk of COVID-19 complications.

How can we boost the economy, clean up the environment, and assist in the coronavirus fight? SAF could be a solution.

Why are we talking about this right now? Senate Republicans have proposed a $58 billion stimulus for the U.S. commercial airline industry—but Democrats, led by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ed Markey (D-MA)want airlines to reduce carbon emissions in exchange for the aid, while the House Democrats’ Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) is eyeing this stimulus round as a chance to revive the discussion on clean energy tax breaks. 

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress had been grappling with how to deal with airline emissions and incentivize the development of clean energy. 

After all, aviation accounts for 2.5% of global GHG emissions—a number that was expected to triple by 2050 as travel and tourism expand

Solution? SAF. As we’ve said, incentivizing Sustainable Aviation Fuel could reduce airline emissions—and now, help the economy, too. 

Derived from renewable biomass or waste byproducts, SAF has been shown to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80% over their full lifecycle

And many BIO members are already working with airlines on SAF-powered flights:

It’s unclear if Congress will require airlines to make environmental improvements as a condition for federal aid. Nonetheless, BIO will continue to work to ensure SAF can help clean up emissions and power the economy—two goals which remain critically important as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on public health and the economy.

To learn more about SAF, listen to BIO’s podcast with Gevo CEO Pat Gruber.

 
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President Trump’s Monday: Lunch with the veep (confirmed to be negative for coronavirus). The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5:30pm ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Today’s a critical day for the Senate to try to move a third stimulus package. The House is still on recess until they do.

 
 
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