The company’s TZLS-501 is a class of monoclonal antibody (mAb) called an anti-interleukin-6 receptor, or anti-IL6R for short.
On-the-ground testing in China has revealed anti-IL6R mAbs, currently approved for rheumatoid arthritis, has a role to play in treating patients.
So, the country’s National Health Commission has recommended the use of Roche blockbuster, Actemra, for patients infected with COVID-19 with serious lung damage and elevated IL-6 levels.
Sanofi and Regeneron are currently exploring the use in this setting of Kevzara, another FDA-approved anti-IL-6 receptor arthritis therapy.
Tiziana, meanwhile, will start assessing the drug in patients as soon as is practicable and will administer TZLS-501 using its proprietary formulation technology.
It said the features of its drug candidate should provide it with “distinct advantages” other anti-IL-6R mAbs such as Actemra and Kevzara in treating severely affected COVID-19 patients.
The aforementioned advantages are TZLS-501’s dual mechanism of action to inhibit signalling by the membrane-bound and soluble IL-6 receptors along with the rapid depletion of circulating IL-6 cytokine, a major cause of lung damage.
“We are excited to move forward with our clinical development plan to expedite evaluation in patients as soon as possible”, said Tiziana’s chief executive Dr Kunwar Shailubhai.
Gabriele Cerrone, chairman, added that Tiziana only became aware of the potential of its anti-IL6R mAb at the weekend after people in Naples with lung problems caused by coronavirus started to respond to treatment with Actemra.
“ We are sitting one of best anti-IL6R monoclonal antibodies on the market but had no idea it could be used for Covid-19 complications on the respiratory system as no-one had ever tried it before.”
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