Pittsburgh company continues clinical trials of new COVID-19 treatment

Local News

(WTAJ) — As infections continue to spread throughout the state, the news of vaccine distributions from Pfizer and Moderna created plenty of conversation over the past few weeks, but people continue to test positive every day and need immediate treatment.

The drug, GPDP1681, is still in phase one of clinical trials, but the CEO of Pittsburgh-based company CytoAgents, the company developing it said it’s showing positive results. It’s a small molecule drug that you take by mouth.

Its developers said the drug blocks an overreaction of the immune system called cytokine storms.

“The ultimate solution is going to be a combination of vaccines, testing, and treatment,” CEO Teresa Whalen said.

Cytokines act as chemical messengers between cells and affect the actions and activities the cells perform. For example, your bodies response to an infection is a fever, swelling, or pain.

A cytokine storm happens when there’s an infection, like COVID-19, and too many cytokine are released as once, causing high fever, severe inflammation, and severe fatigue and nausea.

“We look to prevent patients from progressing to going into the ICU, to prevent them from requiring ventilation, and to get them out of the hospital or keep them at home, giving them an orally available treatment that is also cost effective and broadly accessible unless any other treatment currently being used,” Whalen said.

GP1681 is still in phase one of clinical trials, where the company determines safety and dose amount. Whalen said it was successful in the first group of patients.

“Less than 10 of 10,000 drugs discovered in the lab make it this far,” Whalen said.

This drug would be another step in therapeutic treatment regimens for COVID-19 patients.

The goal is to continue into phase two after phase one is completed and get emergency use authorization from the FDA to get GP1681 on the shelves quickly.

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