Equillium Gains From Positive Results on Coronavirus Drug

Shares of clinical-stage biotechnology company, Equillium, Inc. EQ, surged 730.7% after it announced top-line results of patients treated with itolizumab in a clinical study conducted in India by partner Biocon.

Data from the study showed that itolizumab significantly reduced mortality in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Biocon conducted a randomized, controlled, open-label study at four hospitals in India, enrolling a total of 30 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The regulatory agency in India, The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), has granted restricted emergency use of itolizumab for the treatment of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe ARDS.

Consequently, Equillium is planning to conduct a global, randomized, controlled clinical study of itolizumab in COVID-19 patients, for which it will file an investigational new drug application (IND) in the United States.

Equillium acquired rights to develop and commercialize itolizumab, a first-in-class immune-modulating antibody therapeutic, in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand through a collaboration and license agreement with Biocon. Equillium is currently evaluating itolizumab for the treatment of acute graft-versus-host disease and lupus nephritis, as well as conducting a clinical study in uncontrolled asthma in Australia and New Zealand.

However, enrollment in the EQUIP trial for uncontrolled asthma and the EQUALISE trial for lupus nephritis was paused in March 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. Equillium announced that patient enrollment in both studies has resumed.

The company’s share price has surged 684% in the year so far compared with 6.4% growth for the industry.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for the severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2. The pharma/biotech sector is running a race against time to come up with treatments and vaccines to cure the contagion.

Given the alarming levels of spread and severity, some approved drugs and pipeline candidates for other diseases are being tested to see if they are effective in treating infected patients.

The FDA granted Gilead Sciences’ GILD remdesivir an Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, given the severity of the pandemic.

Alexion ALXN is evaluating its rare disease drug, Ultomiris (ravulizumab-cwvz), for the COVID-19 infection.

Incyte INCY initiated RUXCOVID, a global, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III study, evaluating the efficacy and safety of Jakafi plus SoC in patients 12 years and above with COVID-19-associated cytokine storm.

Equillium currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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