The CATALYST Trial tested the rheumatoid arthritis treatment namilumab as a potential therapeutic to treat patients who are hospitalised with COVID-19 pneumonia and receiving 'usual' care, but who also have high levels in their blood of a protein called CRP, whose levels rise when there is inflammation in the body. Higher levels of CRP have been found to be a potential early marker to predict risk for severity of COVID-19.
Namilumab, produced by the UK-based bio-pharmaceutical company Izana Bioscience's, is an antibody that targets a 'cytokine' which is naturally secreted by immune cells in the body but, at uncontrolled levels, is believed to be a key driver of the excessive and dangerous lung inflammation seen in COVID-19 patients.
The CATALYST Trial is a collaboration between the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford and is supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The Oxford arm of the study is led by Professor Duncan Richards of the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, and Dr Matt Rowland of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences.