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The 80’s Rewind

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Manchester man first in UK to be given arthritis drug in trial to treat COVID-19

Written by on 28 September 2020

A coronavirus patient from Manchester has become the first in the UK to be given an experimental arthritis drug to counter the severe effects of the virus.

Farhan Hamid, 41, from south Manchester, has been given a dose of otilimab – a drug currently under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

He is currently in intensive care at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and was recruited to take part in the trial on 11 September.

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Funded by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the research aims to establish whether otilimab can treat severe lung disease developed as a result of COVID-19.

GSK has been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care to help find a coronavirus vaccine or drug treatment.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is currently leading the trial, but researchers say they want to roll it out to 800 patients across five UK hospitals.

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

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Dr Tim Felton, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester and clinical lead for all coronavirus-related studies at the hospital 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.”

Christopher Corsico, senior vice president of development at GSK, added: “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.”

The results from the study are expected in the first half of 2021.