Immutep (ASX:IMM) shares are up nearly five per cent this morning after the Sydney biotech said a trial of its lead drug candidate would move forward in the Czech Republic to treat COVID-19 patients.

Six Covid patients have been treated with eftilagimod alpha injections for the initial part of the study and all have been discharged from hospital, with no adverse events reported, Immutep said.

After a review by a Data Safety Monitoring Board, the “EAT COVID” trial will now move into a randomised portion of the study, which involves treating up to 110 COVID-10 patients at University Hospital Pilsen.

“There continues to be a significant need to develop therapeutics like efti to treat COVID-19 in patients with an insufficient immune response to overcome the viral spread,” said Immutep chief scientific officer Frédéric Triebel.

“In the case of the EAT COVID study, efti is injected subcutaneously at close intervals, every three days. This strategy aims to quickly boost the rapidly evolving CD8 T cell responses seen in an acute infection.”

The results from the trial will be valuable in providing insights in how efti could play a role in treating other acute infectious diseases, Dr Triebel said.

The Czech Republic has made some progress getting a second wave of coronavirus under control but is still diagnosing a few thousand cases each day.

IMM shares were trading at 43.5c just after noon this morning, up 4.8 per cent from Monday.