A clinical trial for a drug with the potential to treat one of the symptoms of the illness caused by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) will begin in Belgium on Wednesday.
French biotechnology company Biophytis got the green light from the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products in Belgium to test their medicine Sarconeos.
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Administered orally, Sarconeos is a molecule the company is developing to treat neuromuscular disease and which they said has the potential to treat breathing difficulties in Covid-19 patients.
The trial will focus on the drug's potential to treat acute respiratory failure associated with the disease and will be carried out on a reduced pool of about 50 patients suffering from Covid-19.
"Our product has an effect on all muscles, including respiratory muscles, because it acts on an endocrinal system that controls cardio-respiratory function," Biophytis CEO Stanislas Veillet told Le Soir.
Veillet said that the spread of the epidemic in Italy had confirmed to medical experts that the virus attacked this system's cell receptors, which he said was exactly where the drug acts.
"It could, therefore, have the potential to counterbalance this viral attack that results in respiratory distress," he added.
By protecting the respiratory function, the drug could result in patients either no longer needing oxygen therapy or in helping them make the most out of it, and it would also help avoid lesions resulting from patients' intubation.
In Belgium, the study will last 28 days and will be coordinated by Dr Muriel Lins, a pulmonologist at the AZ Sint-Maarten hospital in Mechelen.
The drug's use on the pool of 50 patients will randomised and include the use of placebos, and the results of the patients treated with Sarconeos will later be compared with a larger pool of 180 Covid-19 patients.
The results of the study will be reviewed by an independent committee tasked with deciding whether to give the go-ahead to larger clinical trials for the drug.
The Brussels Times