Are IL-6 inhibitors one key to COVID-19? EUSA Pharma joins Sanofi, Regeneron in rolling out trials

Sanofi and Regeneron are putting their hopes in IL-6 inhibitor Kevzara as a possible therapy for COVID-19 with clinical trials underway. Now, a second IL-6 med rolling into trial in an Italian hospital, potentially showing promise for the class as a whole. 

EUSA Pharma has launched an observational study of IL-6 med Sylvant (siltuximab) to treat patients with severe COVID-19 in Bergamo, Italy's Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital, the British drugmaker said in a release Wednesday. 

The study will evaluate Sylvant's ability to reduce the need for invasive ventilation, time spent in intensive care and 30-day mortality for patients prior to intensive care or those already admitted, EUSA said. Any of those clinical results could prove crucially important for an Italian healthcare system overrun with more than 31,000 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday and more than 2,500 deaths, the highest toll in Europe. 

Sylvant, approved in the U.S. to treat patients with multicentric Castleman disease who are HIV and herpes negative, is the most recent IL-6 targeted for COVID-19 trials after the drugs showed promise in early clinical trials coming out of China. 

RELATED: Sanofi, Regeneron ready to roll Kevzara into COVID-19 trials immediately