Ampion and Inflammatory Lung Diseases, COVID-19
The United States and the rest of the world are experiencing a public health crisis due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2) also known as coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19). Infection and death rates continue to spike, with patients experiencing respiratory complications and requiring hospitalization as the virus sets off a vicious cycle of inflammation, also known as the cytokine storm.
Initial symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Once infected, the virus moves down a patient’s respiratory tract, where the lungs may become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe. In some cases, the disease progresses to severe illness with patients struggling to breathe, resulting in low blood oxygen levels and requiring oxygen therapy, intensive care, and ventilation. These patients develop critical respiratory complications like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and acute lung injury (ALI).
Treatment options for COVID-19 are limited and the numbers of infection continue to rise. Once a patient has respiratory complications like ALI and ARDS, the mortality rate is estimated to be 40%. Respiratory disease, like ALI and ARDS, are characterized by widespread inflammation in the lungs. The triggering insult to the lung has been associated with a hyper innate inflammatory response, or cytokine storm, where cytokines and related proteins (e.g., TNFα) are excessively increased. This hyperactive inflammatory response results in pulmonary edema and fibrosis with poor prognosis. Therapies which can target the inflammatory response may improve the clinical outlook for these patients.
Ampion and COVID-19
As an immunomodulatory agent with anti-inflammatory effects, Ampion interrupts the hyperactive immune response associated with COVID-19 and may improve the clinical outcome for patients suffering from its complications. Ampion is being investigated as a therapy for patients with COVID-19 by inhalation to treat localized inflammation in the lungs and by intravenous (IV) infusion to address the systemic inflammation in the lungs, heart, and kidney observed with COVID-19 infection.
Ampion regulates key components of the immune response connected to pulmonary edema, inflammation, and lung damage in respiratory illness. In vitro studies show that Ampion reduces the production of the cytokines responsible for inflammation (TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6) by regulating with the genetic transcriptional pathways (NFκB, STAT) responsible for the overproduction of these cytokines while activating anti-inflammatory proteins responsible for tissue growth and healing. This mechanism of action may have a clinical effect by interrupting the pulmonary disease, attenuating the cytokine storm, and improving the clinical outcome in patients with COVID-19, as studied in the Ampion COVID-19 clinical program.
Clinical Status of Ampion and COVID-19 – Intravenous (IV) Ampion
Administering Ampion by IV has the potential to treat systemic complications of COVID-19 infection, such as inflammation in the heart and kidneys.
In September 2020, Ampio announced positive results in a Phase I trial for IV Ampion treatment for COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen. The study met its primary endpoint for the safety and tolerability of IV Ampion treatment.
At hospital discharge, the IV Ampion treatment group had a stronger clinical improvement than the COVID standard of care control group, as determined by both the World Health Organization (WHO) clinical improvement scale and the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2), which is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in its guidelines for the management of COVID-19 patients in critical care.
The trial (AP-016) was a randomized, controlled study of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 receiving supplemental oxygen. Patients were randomized 1:1 (active vs control) to receive standard of care (SOC) for COVID-19 plus IV Ampion treatment or SOC alone. Standard of care included the use of anti-viral therapies such as Remdesivir or convalescent plasma. The majority of the patients in the control group were prescribed Remdesivir while no patients in the IV Ampion group received that anti-viral therapy.
Administering Ampion through IV has the potential to treat systemic complications of COVID-19 infection, such as inflammation in the cardiovascular system and kidney.