Arthritis Medicine Found to Treat Inflammation in COVID-19 Patients

A medicine that has typically been used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis has found to work effectively on those who have been hospitalized for Covid-19 pneumonia. This research was conducted by the Universities of Birmingham hospitals. 

An article by the University of Birmingham describes the process of the discovery: “The CATALYST trial tested UK-based bio-pharmaceutical company Izana Bioscience’s namilumab (IZN-101) as a potential therapeutic to treat patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia, and receiving ‘usual’ care, as well as having high levels in their blood of a marker of inflammation known as C reactive protein (CRP).  CRP levels rise when there is inflammation in the body, and elevated levels of CRP have been found to be a potential early marker to predict risk for severity of COVID-19.”

Namilumab is an antibody that has been tested for viability in treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. The drug targets “cytokines,” which are naturally secreted by the body, but it is believed that uncontrolled levels of cytokine causes excessive and dangerous lung inflammation, a symptom often seen in Covid-19 patients. The experiment spanned 8 months from June 2020 to February 2021 over nine NHS hospitals across the UK in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

It was found that all of the patients, while having Covid-19 pneumonia, also had CRP levels of above 40 milligrams per liter. Over time, researchers discovered that an individual receiving namilumab had a 97% probability of a decrease in CRP levels compared to an individual receiving regular care.

“Our research has provided important proof-of-concept evidence that namilumab reduces inflammation in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.  However, our sample size is too small for a definitive assessment of clinical outcomes and further studies are required for this, as well as to understand better the population that may benefit most.  Our results may not generalize to hospitalized patients without evidence of pneumonia or raised CRP or patients not requiring hospitalization. It is important, therefore, that namilumab is now prioritized for further COVID-19 research in a much larger national Phase III clinical trial,” says Dr. Ben Fisher, co-chief investigator of the CATALYST trial at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing.

A discovery like this opens up a world to medicines being used for alternative treatments and purposes, allowing for more effective healthcare and recovery. For a healthier society, we should strive to continue this research in the future.


Categories: Clinical, Epidemiology