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J&J, AbbVie, Bristol Myers Test Immune Regulators for Covid

Oct. 16, 2020, 11:32 AM

Hospitalized Covid-19 patients could have more options for therapies that shorten their stays and keep them off ventilators if a clinical trial announced Friday shows they work.

The National Institutes of Health is studying whether drugs that regulate the immune system known as immune modulators can help Covid-19 patients who develop a type of inflammation that’s linked to life-threatening conditions, such as fluid in the lungs and multiple organ failure.

The clinical trial marks the latest effort under ACTIV, the NIH’s partnership with industry to home in on the most promising vaccine and therapy research for Covid-19. The study will start out testing three drugs, including an experimental AbbVie drug called cenicriviroc to treat liver inflammation. Johnson & Johnson’s Crohn’s disease medication Remicade (infliximab) and Bristol Myers Squibb psoriatic arthritis drug Orencia (abatacept) will also be part of the same clinical trial.

Researchers are running what’s known as an adaptive clinical trial under a master protocol, which allows all three drugs to be tested under the same study. It also anticipates changes to the study design, which means researchers can quickly weed out anything that isn’t working.

All participants in the trial will receive Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir, and researchers may also decide to administer dexamethasone or convalescent plasma.

The NIH expects the trial to run about six months and enroll about 2,100 Covid-19 patients at hospitals in the U.S. and Latin America.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeannie Baumann in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at; Andrew Childers at