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As part of the UK NIHR multi-arm, multi-stage CATALYST Trial, researchers at the University of Oxford will investigate whether administering the anti-inflammatory drug infliximab to patients with COVID-19 can prevent progression to respiratory failure or death.

In some patients, COVID-19 can progress to severe respiratory failure requiring admission to an intensive care unit and mechanical ventilation of the lungs. This does not occur immediately but seems to progress over 7-10 days after first developing symptoms of the disease. 

The overall aim of the CATALYST Trial is to guide the selection of new drug interventions for large phase III trials in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 infection. It is hoped that by using drugs that target the most serious symptoms of the virus, the severity of the disease could be mitigated, leading to a reduction in the number of patients needing to be admitted to intensive care and ultimately, a reduction in virus-related deaths.

The University of Birmingham is leading the delivery of the trial in partnership with University Hospitals Birmingham and the Birmingham National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre. The trial is a collaboration with the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and University College London NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

The Oxford arm of the study, led by Professor Duncan Richards (Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences) and Dr Matt Rowland (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences), is funded by UK Research and Innovation with support from the arthritis therapy acceleration programme (A-TAP), University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division COVID fund, and Helena Charitable Foundation.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website