• The initial study involved 26 patients in Houston and Detroit
  • Auxora was administered in addition to standard care
  • Only 18% of patients treated with Auxora required ventilator treatment

Biotech firm CalciMedica announced Thursday its anti-inflammatory drug Auxora is showing promise in treating COVID-19 when combined with standard care, reducing ventilator use by half and speeding recovery.

In a study currently undergoing peer review, Drs. Charles Bruen of Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Joseph Miller of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found patients treated with Auxora recovered twice as quickly as patients receiving only standard care.

Auxora is a calcium channel inhibitor. It was tested on 26 patients receiving low-flow oxygen in Houston and Detroit. The next step, a 400-patient, placebo-controlled double-blind study, was expected to begin within weeks, CalciMedica said.

“Auxora has the ability to go rapidly to the lung and protect against the pulmonary damage observed in COVID-19 patients. We believe Auxora protects the lung endothelium, preserving its barrier function and facilitating oxygenation,” said Sudarshan Hebbar, chief medical officer at CalciMedica.

Seventeen patients received Auxora plus standard care in the initial study, with nine getting just standard care. The patients receiving Auxora recovered in five days, compared to 12 for those who received standard care alone. Just 18% of Auxora patients required ventilator treatment compared to half of those receiving standard care.

The researchers said fewer Auxora patients experienced adverse events and no serious reactions were observed.

Auxora is one of 548 possible treatments for COVID-19 currently being tested. The one that has shown the most promise so far is Gilead’s Remdesivir, which proved most effective when administered before advanced disease set in. The federal government already has secured 500,000 doses of the drug, virtually the entire production run through September.

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized emergency use of Remdesivir but hasn't made clear when final approval might come. Remdesivir was developed to treat hepatitis C and also was tested as a treament for both the Ebola and Marburg viruses, but proved ineffective against all three.

Gilead (GILD) closed off 0.01% Thursday at $76.64.