Antirheumatic Drug Eases Severe COVID-19 Symptoms: Osaka Univ. Team

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Tokyo, Aug. 24 (Jiji Press)--An antirheumatic drug called tocilizumab has worked to alleviate critical illness in severe infectious diseases caused by the novel coronavirus, an Osaka University team said Monday.

Tadamitsu Kishimoto, professor at the Osaka University Immunology Frontier Research Center, and colleagues found in blood from severe COVID-19 patients that the level of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, or PA-1, a protein that promotes blood clotting, was "strikingly elevated" as that of interlukin-6, or IL-6, a protein secreted from immune cells, went up.

An increase in the PA-1 level would create blood clots in lungs and other organs and make COVID-19 patients becoming severely ill.

But they also said in an article published by the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that tocilizumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeted at IL-6, pushed down the PA-1 level and "alleviated critical illness in severe COVID-19 patients."

Tocilizumab, developed by Japan's Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. <4519> and Swiss drug maker Roche in the wake of the discovery of IL-6 by an Osaka University professor, has been approved only for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

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