LAM-002A (apilimod) has a proven safety record and preliminary research has shown that it can block the cellular entry and trafficking of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is causing COVID-19, according to a news release. Guilford, Conn.-based AI Therapeutics owns the intellectual property rights to the drug.
Enrollment has now begun for a Phase II trial for the drug’s use as a COVID-19 treatment, with the expectation of enrolling 142 newly diagnosed patients to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in reducing virus levels in infected individuals. Previous trials of more than 700 patients have shown LAM-002A to be safe in treating autoimmune diseases and follicular lymphoma, as well.
A study published in Nature that observed more than 13,000 existing drugs against two strains of the live SARS-CoV-2 virus found LAM-002A to be the most effective in combatting the virus, including in lung cells infected with the virus. Another study (published in CellI) independently showed that the drug could combat the virus in infections in human lung cells, too.
Should LAM-002A show effectiveness, the trial could be expanded to assess whether it would help prevent the development of the disease after exposure, particularly in high-risk populations, including within nursing homes, healthcare facilities and underserved communities, according to Yale professor of neurosurgery, genetics and neuroscience Murat Gunel, the chief scientific adviser to AI Therapeutics and someone who holds a financial interest in the company.
“LAM-002A holds promise to be a powerful new therapy for COVID-19 patients to prevent progression of disease, hopefully avoiding the need for hospitalization” Gunel said.