HealthPartners Institute begins clinical trial for drug to help COVID-19 patients

HealthPartners Institute says it’s begun testing a drug for severe COVID-19 pneumonia that could help prevent lung inflammation in patients.

HealthPartners said the FDA gave fast-track investigational approval for testing of the drug, formally known as CM4620-IE, which can block the body’s production and release of molecules that cause inflammation, potentially reducing lung damage and the need for a ventilator.

The study will include up to 60 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. To be eligible, patients must have moderately low levels of blood oxygen, be hospitalized and require oxygen support but not yet to the progression of needing support from a ventilator.

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Patients in the study will randomly receive either three four-hour infusions of the drug over the course of three days or receive standard care without the drug. Changes in blood oxygen and survival without needing a ventilator, as well as time until hospital discharge, mortality at 30 and 60 days and changes in lung inflammation, will determine if the drug works as intended. Patients will also be followed for 10 days or until discharge and contacted at 30 and 60 days for assessment.

"Through our critical care research program, we are equipped to incorporate research into the care of our most critical and complex patients," Critical Care Research Center director Sandi Wewerka said in a statement. "This environment allows us to quickly turn our focus to COVID-19 research to actively seek and test treatment options. We are eager to see if this particular drug can provide hope for some of our sickest patients suffering with COVID-19 and their families."