Humanigen Inc (OTCMKTS:HGEN) shares rose on Monday as it announced that it will partner with contract research organization, CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services (CTI) on a Phase III clinical trial for lenzilumab to help coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, if a study is approved.
The biotech's monoclonal antibody lenzilumab is aimed at treating cytokine storm, which can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is associated with the current deadly form of COVID-19.
READ: Humanigen moves a step closer to a Phase III trial to tackle leading cause of death in coronavirus
"The COVID-19 pandemic demands an unprecedented response from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology communities, requiring innovation, collaboration, and prioritization of speed without the cost of safety," Tim Schroeder, founder and CEO of CTI said in a statement.
"We are proud to have the opportunity to collaborate on such a response with the Humanigen team and to work together to develop an effective treatment solution for those hardest hit by COVID-19."
There are now over 739,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally and there have been over 35,000 deaths. Patients with the severe form of the disease experience viral pneumonia that can progress to ARDS and death.
A rapid escalation in ARDS presents a major challenge for health systems around the world given limited hospital beds and ventilators.
"Humanigen has pioneered the field of GM-CSF neutralization and, unlike others, has already conducted two Phase I and two Phase II studies, including in patients with severe respiratory conditions, with excellent safety results," said Dr Cameron Durrant, chief executive officer of Humanigen.
"We have been working on prevention of cytokine storm for nearly three years. Lenzilumab has an excellent safety and tolerability profile and has not been associated with serious adverse events, including in patients who are immunosuppressed or with severe asthma. Subject to discussion and agreement with regulatory authorities, we intend to progress as quickly as possible with this study."
CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services is a global, full-service contract research organization (CRO), delivering a complete spectrum of clinical trial and consulting services. It has clinical trial experience across six continents and partners with research sites, patients, and sponsors to fulfil unmet medical needs.
Humanigen shares added over 23% in early New York deals to trade at $1.55 each, before they dropped back to $1.25.
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