NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Doctors are testing a drug in North Texas, which will help with one of the most dangerous complications induced by COVID-19 called the “cytokine storm.”

Mortality in COVID-19 patients has been linked to its presence where excessive production of proinflammatory cytokines leads to ARDS aggravation and widespread tissue damage resulting in multi-organ failure and death. This means the body starts to attack its own cells and tissues rather than just fighting off the virus.

Targeting cytokines during the management of COVID-19 patients could improve survival rates and reduce mortality.

“Unfortunately with some patients, when they get infected with the virus, it’s as if their foot is on the gas pedal and it stays on the gas pedal and it keeps pushing hard on the gas pedal,” said Dr. Cameron Durrant, CEO of Humanigen. “What Lenzilumab does, and it has a dual action, is it alleviates the pressure by taking the foot off the gas pedal and putting a foot on the brake pedal.”

A Mayo Clinic study looking at 12 patients found 92% of them saw improvement with the drug – staying five days in the hospital instead of 11.

As for immunity, no one knows how long it lasts in patients who had the coronavirus. On the plus side, the disease mutates more slowly than flu viruses, whose viral-protein targets change so fast that annual flu shots are needed.

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(credit: Humanigen)

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