News posted 28 September, 2020

First UK patient treated in ‘OSCAR’ COVID-19 research study, trialling experimental arthritis drug as treatment for coronavirus

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  • First UK patient treated in ‘OSCAR’ COVID-19 research study, trialling experimental arthritis drug as treatment for coronavirus

The first UK patient has been treated in new COVID-19 research trialling the impact of an experimental drug, otilimab, on severe lung disease related to COVID-19.

The patient is being cared for at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), and was recruited to the ‘OSCAR’ study on 11 September 2020.

OSCAR (Otilimab in Severe COVID-19 Related Disease) is sponsored and funded by UK-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, and is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The study is planned to take place at hospitals across the UK, and at the MRI is led by Dr Andy Martin, an Intensive Care and Anaesthesia Consultant.

Dr Martin said: “The patients eligible to take part in this study are those experiencing very severe lung difficulties due to COVID-19 infection and are receiving oxygen or ventilator support.

“We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab – which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – could also potentially ease the effect of coronavirus on the lungs, dampening the impact of the virus on the immune system.

Christopher Corsico, Senior Vice President Development, GSK said: “We are continuing to work hard to find solutions to address the pandemic, including exploring potential treatment options for COVID-19 patients.

“We know that some COVID-19 patients experience an overreaction of their immune system – sometimes referred to as cytokine storm – which can lead to hospitalisation or death. We believe that otilimab might be able to help counter or calm this process.

“We are grateful to Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and the study participants for supporting this important research.”

Participants in the study are allocated into two groups at random – with half receiving a one-hour, single infusion of otilimab or a placebo intravenous (IV) therapy, in addition to standard of care.

Dr Tim Felton, Honorary Consultant, Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester and Clinical Lead for all MFT COVID-19-related research studies, leads OSCAR at Wythenshawe Hospital, which is also part of MFT.

Dr Felton said: “The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days – so this research is potentially life-saving.

“I’d like to thank our first OSCAR participant – as well as the thousands of others who have taken part in coronavirus studies at MFT to date – as every participant who takes part in our research is contributing to the coordinated effort to enhance understanding of this global pandemic.”

Read more about COVID-19 research at MFT.

OSCAR team
OSCAR team 2