Eli Lilly has announced to begin clinical trials of rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant to treat COVID-19 patients. 

The company plans to explore the anti-inflammatory responses that were witnessed in rheumatoid arthritis patients, and how the drug – Olumiant – an oral JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor – might help in curing COVID-19. The trial would be conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The decision of the company might have been influenced by the anecdotal evidence that showed anti-inflammatory drugs such as Gilead’s Remdesiver and Roche’s Actemra have the potential to treat COVID-19 patients.  

Additionally, the company is also advancing the studies of LY3127804 – an investigational selective monoclonal antibody against Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2)) – to Phase II testing in pneumonia patients with COVID-19 at risk of developing ARDS. The company is actively putting efforts in fighting COVID-19 by advancing the clinical trials and partnering with pharma companies such as Vancouver-based AbCellera to co-develop antibodies to fight novel coronavirus. 

Gilead Sciences announces the promising results of clinical trials for its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir against COVID-19. 

 The company is running at least five clinical trials for its antiviral drug remdesivir – out of which two are Phase III trials – the SIMPLE trials. 

More than 1,800 patients have been given the drug on an individual compassionate use basis. Out of which the drug improved the course of the disease in 53 of those patients. Half of the patients were on mechanical ventilation and four were on a heart-lung by-pass machine, and eight were excluded because of erroers and other reasons. 

All the patients were given remdesivir for up to 10 days. Over 18 days, 68% showed improvement, with 17 of the 30 patients on ventilators able to be taken off the devices. Almost half of patients were discharged, while 13% died. The study also showed higher mortality in patients receiving ventilation. However, the results from SIMPLE trials are still not out and are expected to be announced within the month. 

The drug was originally developed to cure Ebola; however, it was proved to be ineffective. 

The US FDA has recommended the use of Rutgers’ Saliva Test under EUA for diagnosing COVID-19. 

Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics has developed a diagnostic test that uses saliva and is developed by RUCDR with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs (ADL).

At present, the testing kits require swab from deep in the nasal passages or the back of the throat, which puts healthcare workers at risk of catching an infection. However; saliva testing is a new development and will not require the help of medical care provider. 

The company joins several others who have had approval for the use of their diagnostic kits for COVID-19, including North Carolina-based Cellex, Mayo Clinic, and Stanford Medicine. 

This is the second novel approach to test COVID-19, after the university launched a genetic testing services that can test thousands of samples daily.