Rutgers is launching a trial of an experimental psoriasis drug that may also fight one of the deadliest complications of COVID-19, a condition that causes the immune system to attack the lungs and other organs.
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital will test EDP1815 in a trial of up to 60 patients -- half receiving the drug, half a placebo -- to see if it reduces the need for them to go on oxygen, the university said Thursday.
Scientists hope the Evelo Biosciences drug can stop "cytokine storms," a massive overreaction by proteins in cells that trigger the immune system and lead it to attack the lungs and other organs.
An earlier trial of the drug in people with other conditions had minimal side effects while reducing inflammatory responses, the university said.
"Our further evaluation in COVID-19 patients will discover how the drug offers benefits those at risk from developing severe complications related to the virus," Rutgers vice chancellor Reynold Panettieri Jr. said in a statement.
According to Evelo's website, EDP1815 has been in clinical trials as a possible psoriasis treatment, though the company is also looking to study its usefulness in treating other inflammatory conditions like asthma and arthritis.