Humanigen Jumps as Covid Drug Candidate Chosen for NIH Study

Humanigen's lenzilumab treatment is chosen in a study combining it with remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients.
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Biopharmaceutical company Humanigen (HGEN)  jumped nearly 20% Tuesday after it was chosen for a clinical "big effect trial" for its drug lenzilumab as a treatment for Covid-19 by the National Institutes of Health. 

The stock rose 19.49% to $5.64 in trading Tuesday.

The NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' chose Humanigen six weeks after the company reported rapid clinical improvement in 12 coronavirus patients using lenzilumab.

The test will evaluate a combination of lenzilumab and Gilead Sciences'  (GILD) - Get Report remdesivir on Covid treatment outcomes vs. a placebo in 100 patients in a two-armed study. 

“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 Dr. Cameron Durrant, Humanigen's CEO. 

The science so far indicates that Covid's infection of the patient's respiratory tract is rapid and damage is primarily mediated by the host inflammatory response.

The 12 patients treated in Humanigen's study showed "rapid clinical improvement" with a median time to recovery and discharge of five days with no fatalities. 

Those patients in the Mayo Clinic trial showed "severe or critical pneumonia" and each had at least one risk factor associated with poor outcomes from a coronavirus infection, including age, smoking history and cardiovascular disease. 

Between the NIH trial and the company's ongoing phase 3 study, Humanigen will have data from about 500 patients hospitalized with coronavirus. 

There have been nearly 4.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. with 151,000 deaths attributed to the disease.