Manchester man is first to receive experimental arthritis drug in trial to treat Covid-19 

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A Manchester man has become the first UK patient to be given an experimental arthritis drug in a clinical trial to treat severe Covid-19.

Farhan Hamid, 41, is in intensive care at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

He has received a dose of otilimab – which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – in hopes that this drug could also ease the effects of Covid-19.

Mr Hamid is part of the Otilimab in Severe Covid-19 Related Disease (Oscar) study which aims to determine whether the drug can treat the severe lung disease caused by the virus.

Farhan Hamid, 41, has become the first UK patient to be given an experimental arthritis drug in a clinical trial to treat severe Covid-19 at Manchester Royal Infirmary

Farhan Hamid, 41, has become the first UK patient to be given an experimental arthritis drug in a clinical trial to treat severe Covid-19 at Manchester Royal Infirmary

The trial at the Manchester hospital is led by Dr Andy Martin. He said: ‘The patients eligible to take part in this study are those experiencing very severe lung difficulties due to Covid-19 and are receiving oxygen or ventilator support.

‘We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab – which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – could also ease the effect of coronavirus on the lungs, dampening the impact of the virus on the immune system.’

Oscar is funded by UK-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which aims to recruit 800 patients globally for the study. Trials are also under way in the US and results are expected in the first half of 2021.

He has received a dose of otilimab – which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – in hopes that this drug could also ease the effects of Covid-19

He has received a dose of otilimab – which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – in hopes that this drug could also ease the effects of Covid-19

GSK has said it is aiming to conduct the study at five hospitals in the UK.

Those taking part will be allocated into two groups at random, with half receiving a one-hour, single infusion of otilimab, while others get a placebo intravenous therapy, in addition to standard care.

Dr Tim Felton, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester and clinical lead for all Covid-19-related studies at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days – so this research is potentially life-saving.’

Dr Tim Felton, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester and clinical lead for all Covid-19-related studies at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Tim Felton, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester and clinical lead for all Covid-19-related studies at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Christopher Corsico, senior vice president development at GSK, said: ‘We are continuing to work hard to find solutions to address the pandemic, including exploring potential treatment options for Covid-19 patients.

‘We know that some Covid-19 patients experience an overreaction of their immune system – sometimes referred to as cytokine storm – which can lead to hospitalisation or death.

‘We believe that otilimab might be able to help counter or calm this process.’

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