Critically ill patients who received COVID-19 drug candidate aviptadil (RLF-100) were able to make a rapid recovery from respiratory failure from COVID-19, according to pharmaceutical companies NeuroRX and Relief Therapeutics.
Typically used alongside phentolamine to treat erectile dysfunction, the first report on the drug's success comes from doctors in Houston Methodist Hospital.
Although these early results are yet to be released, the report highlights the case of a 54-year-old man who contracted COVID-19 while receiving treatment for rejection of a double lung transplant. Within four days of treatment with RLF-100, he reportedly came off the ventilator. The companies say that similar results also came for 15 other patients treated under emergency use.
More than this, the report supposedly highlights the rapid clearance of classic pneumonitis findings on x-rays, improved blood oxygen, and a 50% or greater average reduction in laboratory markers for inflammation by COVID-19.
An independent research team at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, also showed that the drug candidate was able to prevent SARS coronavirus replication in human lung cells and monocytes in Petri dishes.
Although promising results, due to the relatively small sample size, and other limitations, Jonathon Javitt, NeuroRx CEO and Chairman remains cautious.
"If you ask me whether this is the cure to COVID, my answer is that I don't know, but it shows promise, and I hope so," says Javitt. "Of course, this is a small number [refering to patient data so far], and of course, testing that includes patients given placebos is needed."
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration granted the drug an Expanded Access Protocol to treat respiratory distress from COVID-19. This means that the drug can be administered on an emergency basis to patients who are too ill to join a clinical trial and pregnant women. Meanwhile, Phase II/III trials involving 70 people are still ongoing.