Dundee drug trial aims to treat severe COVID-19 symptoms

The University of Dundee is leading a major new clinical trial of a drug it is hoped may help to prevent the worst symptoms of COVID-19.

Researchers from the University’s School of Medicine are partnering with global biopharmaceutical company Insmed Incorporated to conduct trials of brensocatib, a drug being developed to treat lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients.

The trial is led by Professor James Chalmers, British Lung Foundation Professor of Respiratory Research at the University. Professor Chalmers is also Consultant Respiratory Physician at Ninewells Hospital, one of the trial sites.

Professor Chalmers said:

“High rates of patients requiring ventilation and overwhelming intensive care unit capacity has been a major cause of excess deaths around the world and we hope that brensocatib can put a brake on the devastation this disease causes, to literally stop COVID-19 when it begins attacking the lungs.”

While the virus results in a mild infection in most people, up to 20% of patients develop inflammation of the lungs which can require them to be ventilated. Though COVID-19 is caused by a viral infection, research has shown that the body’s own inflammatory response, designed to clear the virus, causes lung damage that ultimately leads to respiratory failure and death in severe cases.

Study investigator and NHS Tayside R&D director Professor Jacob George added:

“This is the first Scottish-led drug trial into COVID-19 and it has been prioritised and designated as an urgent public health study. Tayside can be justifiably proud of this and we look forward to collaborating with other NHS Boards in Scotland to recruit eligible patients onto the trial.”