National Institutes of Health Selects Humanigen’s Lenzilumab for its COVID-19 Big Effect Trial
July 27, 2020
Big Effect Trial (BET) sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to advance high priority therapeutic candidates for COVID-19
Lenzilumab will be evaluated in combination with remdesivir and compared to placebo and remdesivir
Burlingame, CA, July 27, 2020 – Humanigen, Inc., (HGEN) (“Humanigen”), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on preventing and treating cytokine storm, announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the United States Government Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as represented by the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID), and Humanigen have executed a clinical trial agreement for lenzilumab, the company’s proprietary Humaneered®anti-human granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) monoclonal antibody drug candidate, as an agent to be evaluated in the NIAID-sponsored Big Effect Trial (BET) in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
BET will help advance NIAID’s strategic plan for COVID-19 research, which includes conducting studies to advance high-priority therapeutic candidates.1 Identification of agents with novel mechanisms of action for therapy is a strategic priority.
This trial builds on initial data from NIAID’s Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT) that demonstrated Gilead’s investigational antiviral, remdesivir, may improve time to recovery in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. BET will evaluate the combination of lenzilumab and remdesivir on treatment outcomes versus placebo and remdesivir in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The trial is expected to enroll 100 patients in each arm of the study with an interim analysis for efficacy after 50 patients have been enrolled in each arm.
“We have been encouraged by the lenzilumab efficacy and safety data demonstrated in the compassionate use series in COVID-19 patients and are thrilled that NIH selected lenzilumab to be part of its Big Effect Trial,” said Cameron Durrant, MD, MBA, chief executive officer of Humanigen. “With data from the BET and our ongoing Phase III study, we will have data from approximately 500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”
Experience with SARS-CoV-2 indicates that infection of the respiratory tract is rapid and damage is primarily mediated by the host inflammatory response. These conditions may make it difficult to modify COVID-19 with a pathogen-directed therapeutic. Host-directed strategies that target the immune response may exert additional therapeutic benefit. Having previously published data demonstrating the ability of lenzilumab to prevent and/or treat cytokine storm, Humanigen believes lenzilumab may be synergistic in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 when used in combination with a direct-acting antiviral, like remdesivir, given the differing mechanisms of action.
More details on Humanigen’s programs in COVID-19 can be found on the company’s website at www.humanigen.com under the COVID-19 tab, and details of the US Phase III potential registration study can be found at clinicaltrials.gov using ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT04351152.
 NIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research FY2020 – FY2024. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. April 22, 2020. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/sites/default/files/NIAID-COVID-19-Strategic-Plan-2020.pdf.
About Humanigen, Inc.
Humanigen, Inc. is developing its portfolio of clinical and pre-clinical therapies for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases via its novel, cutting-edge GM-CSF neutralization and gene-knockout platforms. We believe that our GM-CSF neutralization and gene-editing platform technologies have the potential to reduce the inflammatory cascade associated with coronavirus infection. The company’s immediate focus is to prevent or minimize the cytokine release syndrome that precedes severe lung dysfunction and ARDS in serious cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The company is also focused on creating next-generation combinatory gene-edited CAR-T therapies using strategies to improve efficacy while employing GM-CSF gene knockout technologies to control toxicity. In addition, the company is developing its own portfolio of proprietary first-in-class EphA3-CAR-T for various solid cancers and EMR1-CAR-T for various eosinophilic disorders. The company is also exploring the effectiveness of its GM-CSF neutralization technologies (either through the use of lenzilumab as a neutralizing antibody or through GM-CSF gene knockout) in combination with other CAR-T, bispecific or natural killer (NK) T cell engaging immunotherapy treatments to break the efficacy/toxicity linkage, including to prevent and/or treat graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Additionally, Humanigen and Kite, a Gilead Company, are evaluating lenzilumab in combination with Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma in a clinical collaboration. For more information, visit www.humanigen.com.
This release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect management's current knowledge, assumptions, judgment and expectations regarding future performance or events. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in such statements are reasonable, they give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct and you should be aware that actual events or results may differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Words such as "will," "expect," "intend," "plan," "potential," "possible," "goals," "accelerate," "continue," and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding our expectations for the Phase III study and the potential future development of lenzilumab to minimize or reduce the severity of lung dysfunction associated with severe and critical COVID-19 infections or to be approved by FDA for such use or to help CAR-T reach its full potential or to deliver benefit in preventing GvHD. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, the risks inherent in our lack of profitability and need for additional capital to conduct the Phase III study and grow our business; our dependence on partners to further the development of our product candidates; the uncertainties inherent in the development and launch of any new pharmaceutical product; the outcome of pending or future litigation; and the various risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" sections and elsewhere in the Company's periodic and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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Victoria Meissner, MD
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