Designed for something else, SD company tests drug on COVID-19 patients

Clinical trial researcher
Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 15:21:05-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) — A San Diego-based biotech company has gotten FDA approval to begin a clinical trial for a drug that could prevent COVID-19 patients from needing a ventilator.

CalciMedica began the trial this week for their drug CM4620-IE.

Originally in development to treat acute pancreatitis, doctors running studies noticed it may have benefits for COVID-19 patients as well.

“Some of the doctors who had used the drug came to us and asked if they could use it on COVID-19 patients,” said Rachel Leheny, Chairman and CEO of CalciMedica.

The trial has started with the first patients at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. They expect to enroll more within the next week at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. In total, they hope to enroll 60 patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia, 40 of which would receive CM4620-IE.

“There is a dire need for a fast-acting, potent treatment for patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia,” said Charles A. Bruen, a critical care and emergency physician at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.

“Recent clinical studies demonstrated safety and potential efficacy of CM4620-IE in critically ill patients with acute pancreatitis. Its rapid onset makes it ideal for acute settings. It has the potential to prevent the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and reduce the need for ventilators at a time when there is a shortage of ventilators in healthcare facilities across the U.S.”

According to the company, "CM4620-IE is a potent and selective small molecule CRAC channel inhibitor that prevents CRAC channel overactivation, which can cause pulmonary endothelial damage and cytokine storm in COVID-19."

Leheny said she hopes to have data within the next two months. If successful, she said the drug could become commercially available in 2021.