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Daniel Anthony, Professor of Experimental Neuropathology in the Department of Pharmacology, is the scientific lead in a joint research team running a new clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness for the treatment of COVID-19 of Nafamostat. This existing medicine, manufactured by Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, is a well-established treatment in Japan for pancreatitis. The company has generously donated supplies of Nafamostat for the initial clinical evaluation.

The clinical trial is being undertaken at the University of Edinburgh. The trial will build on evidence that has previously shown that Nafamostat can prevent the virus from infecting human cells in the laboratory. Studies have shown that the drug blocks virus entry into lung cells and prevents it from multiplying in the human body. In this way the research team hope it could reduce the severity of disease in infected individuals.

“Our primary objective will be to discover whether treatment with Nafamostat, a serine protease inhibitor, is able to prevent clinical progression of the infection, reduce mortality, and speed recovery of patients,” said Professor Anthony.   

This study is being supported by a grant from the medical research charity LifeArc as part of its activity to address the need for new therapies for COVID-19.

Organisation of the trial has been led by not-for-profit company Latus Therapeutics, founded by Dr Bobojon Nazarov. Dr Nazarov holds an MSc in Pharmacology, a DPhil in Chemical Biology and an MBA from the University of Oxford.

Other members of the research team include Professor Graham Richards, former Head of Chemistry at Oxford and founder of Oxford University Innovation; Professor Paul Finn, CEO of Oxford Drug Design; Dr Colin Ferrett and Dr Suzie Anthony from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust; and Dr Emma Ladds from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford.