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Anti-TNF therapies could treat patients with COVID-19-related acute respiratory distress, says GlobalData

Remicade (infliximab) and Humira (adalimumab) are the established anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapies that have been shown to decrease inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As these anti-TNF therapies reduce inflammation, they could treat COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress (ARDS), says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

This would reduce COVID-19 mortality, as about 17% of COVID-19 patients develop ARDS.

Patrick Aiyes, MEng, Senior Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Currently, there are no pharmaceutical companies testing TNF inhibitors in patients with COVID-19; this could be an opportunity to explore, given the pressing need for treatments for COVID-19. The proposed patient group for anti-TNF therapy would be those in a clinical trial setting with moderate diseases and requiring oxygen support but not admitted to intensive care.”

Although anti-TNF therapy could be useful clinically, it is possible that it may not outweigh the cost-benefit ratio, given that in diseases such as ulcerative colitis (UC), the annual cost of therapy can range from US$11,000–14,000 in the UK.”

Aiyes concludes: “Although in theory, anti-TNF therapy could be beneficial in treating COVID-19, concerns surrounding the drug class’ safety profile remain. In COVID-19 patients, there is some evidence that bacterial infections could develop faster in a damaged lung and anti-TNF therapy could increase the risk of that infection due to its effects on a patient’s inflammatory response.

“There are preclinical studies in mice that demonstrate that anti-TNF therapy improves symptoms of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In RA patients, blocking TNF reduces cytokine concentrations. This indicates that anti-TNFs in COVID-19 patients could prove beneficial.”

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Last Updated: 11-Jun-2020