Incyte continues examining one of its drugs' ability to treat COVID-19
The Wilmington-based biopharmaceutical company Incyte is set to begin clinical trials for a drug that may be able to treat patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
The drug Jakafi, or more commonly Ruxolitinib, is used to treat blood cancers among other things and made Incyte almost $1.7 billion last year.
Delaware Public Media’s Nick Ciolino recently spoke with Incyte Vice President of Oncology Targeted Therapeutics Peter Langmuir, MD about how it may fit in with the list of different therapies being tested and used to treat the virus.
The tests will confirm if ruxolitinib can treat the cytokine storm associated with some patients critically ill with COVID.
Cytokine storm is the body’s defenses overreacting to the virus and attacking the lungs and causing inflammation.
Physicians are using other therapies to treat inflammation from the virus, but Langmuir says Ruxolitinib may be unique in its ability to block harmful cytokines.
“Hospitalization, the need for mechanical ventilation, all the inflammation we’re seeing—if those cytokines are a key driver of that, then roxolitinib has the potential of blocking those dangerous cytokines in those patients, so that’s where I think the unique opportunity of ruxolitinib lies,” he said.
The first of two phase three randomized clinical trials will test to see if ruxolitinib can help patients with cytokine storm avoid the need for mechanical ventilation.
The second trial will evaluate if the drug can successfully bring patients off ventilation better than the existing standard of care.
Ruxolitinib can already be prescribed to COVID patients in a clinical setting through an expanded access program.