Newton Company to Begin Trial on Coronavirus Treatment

Karyopharm Therapeutics said the planned clinical trial of selinexor would be the first study of an XPO1 inhibitor in patients with severe viral infections

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A Newton-based pharmaceutical company is aiming to start clinical trials next week on a cancer drug to treat patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Karyopharm Therapeutics produces the drug XPOVIO or selinexor which is FDA approved to treat people with multiple myeloma. 

Dr. Michael Kauffman, Karyopharm's CEO, said the company hopes to begin trials using a low dose of the drug on hospitalized patients with coronavirus.

“It turns out that the host protein that our drug targets, which is called XPO1, is used by many viruses, including HIV, the flu virus, RSV and COVID-19-causing virus,” Kauffman said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top expert on infectious diseases, said Thursday he feels good about prospects for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. "You're going to be hearing over the next months or more about different drugs that are going to go into these different randomized control trials," he said. "And I feel confident, knowing about what this virus is and what we can do with it, that we will have some sort of therapy."

The company said the planned clinical trial would be the first study of an XPO1 inhibitor in patients with severe viral infections.

Kauffman added that they want to see if they can reduce inflammation and reduce viral production and allow the patients to come off oxygen support sooner.

"In the last two weeks, we’ve actually gone into high gear, literally working 7/24 to create a new virtual program at Karyopharm and we feel energized to try and contribute to this and [I am], as I said, cautiously optimistic that we can really do something,” he said.

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