The first 24 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia have been recruited into a multi-national clinical trial comparing Dimerix (ASX:DXB)’s DMX-200 drug candidate with other treatments.

Over a year into the pandemic and yet another 5.2 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the last seven days according to the WHO, and the number of daily cases and deaths worldwide continues to grow. The need for improved treatments for these hospitalised patients is essential.

Dimerix’s drug candidate, DMX-200, is included in the a REMAP-CAP study looking at a class of medication that inhibits the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which modulates inflammation – and which is responsible for the respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients.

The global REMAP-CAP study platform began as a global initiative to examine pneumonia treatments but quickly pivoted to COVID-19 once the pandemic struck.

So far, 22 patients in the Netherlands and two in the United Kingdom have been enrolled in the study, Dimerix said.

This remains such a large and growing unmet need with multiple viral mutations now occurring globally, says Webster. Finding a treatment to help these COVID-19 patients remain crucial.

If the DMX-200 treatment proves helpful, the data could be used to support an Emergency Use Authorisation application for the oral medication.

Specifically, the study will compare treatment with a combination of DMX-200 and an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB); with an ARB alone; with an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEi); and with no RAS inhibitor.

“There is a compelling biologic rationale to imbed DMX-200 into the RAS domain of the REMAP-CAP COVID trial, where its potential therapeutic effects may combine with those of angiotensin receptor blockers to reduce the organ support requirements, including ventilation, and death in patients hospitalised with COVID-19,” Dr Patrick Lawler, REMAP-CAP RAS Domain Specific Working Group chairman and a clinician-scientist at Toronto General Hospital, said in November.

Dimerix says that having its intellectual property included in a global trial of this magnitude generates an enormous value creation opportunity for the company and its shareholders.

If DMX-200 shows some benefit for COVID-19, it could also be used to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) associated with other infections, such as pneumonia and influenza.

Two more trials progressing

Meanwhile, the “2.0” version of the CLARITY (Controlled evaluation of Angiotensin Receptor Blockers for COVID-19 respiraTorY disease) clinical trial is expected to begin soon in India, where hundreds of thousands of people a day are being diagnosed with the respiratory ailment, with a high proportion requiring hospital treatment.

Lead investigator Dr Meg Jardine, a nephrologist and professor of medicine at the University of Sydney, told Stockhead in February that using DMX-200 in conjunction with an ARB such as Avapro represents an exciting combination.

“The exciting thing about propagermanium is that it works in companion with the ARB,” Dr Jardine says. “The ARB does the first blocking in this cascade of inflammation, and then [ DMX-200] comes in further downstream, hopefully mopping up any other processes that have escaped the ARB.

“So, the two together might work better than either one on its own.”

Dimerix is also making plans for its own study, a proposed Phase 3 pivotal program in FSGS, a rare kidney disorder with an approved pharmacological treatment.

Success in any of these trials could be transformational for the $51 million Melbourne biotech.

This article was developed in collaboration with Dimerix, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.