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Can-Fite Surges on Study Hopes for Arthritis Drug in Coronavirus Treatment

Can-Fite said its lead drug, Piclidenoson, is in a phase III study for rheumatoid arthritis treatments, but could possibly be used on coronavirus patients.

Can-Fite Biopharama  (CANF) - Get Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. Sponsored ADR Report shares surged in pre-market trading Friday after the drugmaker said its working with Temple University to explore the development of its rheumatoid arthritis for coronavirus patients.

Israel-based Can-Fite's  lead drug, Piclidenoson, could be used to those suffering from coronavirus symptoms, the company said, following China's approval of Roche AG's rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Actemra, in patients with severe lung damage. Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report is also studying the effectiveness of its antiviral remdesivir drug in China, with test results expected next month.

"Piclidenoson is currently in Phase III study for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and on top of it has been shown to possess anti-viral effects against 2 single stranded RNA viruses HIV and HCC," the company said. "The Coronaviruses are also single stranded RNA viruses."

Can-Fite's U.S.-listed shares were marked 23.3% higher in pre-market trading Friday to indicate an opening bell price of $1.66 each. 

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Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield told lawmakers on a House appropriations panel that remdesivir, Gilead's developing coronavirus treatment, was being used on compassionate grounds in Washington state. 

Federal Food & Drug Administration rules allow patients to use unapproved drugs in life-threatening situations when all other options have been exhausted.

Last month, Gilead said that around 1,000 patients suffering from both moderate and severe coronavirus symptoms were given varying doses of remdesivir as part of a Phase 3 study after the World Health Organization said the drug may be the "only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy" in treating the rapidly-spreading disease.