Experimental long COVID treatment shows promise in small trial

August 3, 2022
Experimental long COVID treatment shows promise in small trial

A drug developed by biotechnology company Axcella Health (Axcella) was revealed to help patients recover from lingering physical and mental fatigue which is a side effect of long COVID. The drug was originally developed to treat fatty liver disease but was repurposed by Axcella to address the chronic fatigue symptoms experienced by more than half of long COVID sufferers: it primarily seeks to restore the normal function of mitochondria, the tiny structures that power cells.

Axcella Chief Medical Officer Margaret Koziel said trial results indicated physical fatigue scores of a fraction of people who received the drug, AXA1125, returned to normal levels after 28 days of treatment. Others who received the drug also reported “statistically significant” physical and mental improvements according to a scale developed to measure chronic fatigue.

About 41 patients were recruited in the trial conducted at the University of Oxford, where they received either the Axcella drug or a placebo over a month. All the patients were confirmed to have a post-COVID infection and had an abnormal phosphocreatine recovery time, a measure of mitochondrial function.

However, there was no evident changes in phosphocreatine recovery time in the patient groups, according to trial results. The trial had also looked at blood tests measuring lactate, a sign of muscle health, alongside patient-reported measures of mental and physical fatigue.

“This trial is suggesting that a drug that’s very safe to take and has minimal side effects is causing substantial improvement in people’s physical and cognitive experience of fatigue,” said Dr. Jason Maley, a consultant for Axcella who runs a long COVID clinic at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

There are currently no approved treatments for chronic fatigue in patients with long COVID, a condition estimated to affect more than one hundred million people worldwide.

Axcella plans to meet with US and UK regulators with hopes of seeking an accelerated approval pathway for this enormous unmet need.

Category: Education, Features

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