COVID Innovation Fund Award: Treatment of Viral-Induced Cytokine Storm

Principal Investigator: James Crapo, M.D., National Jewish Health and biomimetix JV LLC

Medical Context

Virally induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is currently the leading cause of death in patients with COVID-19. When ARDS strikes, patients experience a rapid, massive overreaction by the patient’s own immune system in response to the viral infection. This floods the body with chemicals, called cytokines, that ramp up the inflammatory response. Known as “cytokine storm,” the resulting pulmonary inflammation fills the lung tissues with fluid, deprives the body of oxygen, and leads to multiorgan failure. The need to identify medical therapies to mitigate cytokine storm and COVID-19 associated ARDS is urgent.

Research Proposal

BMX‑001 is a novel drug that is currently being tested in human clinical trials for its ability to protect patients from the inflammatory side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation during cancer treatment. BMX-001 has been shown to block some of the same inflammatory pathways that have been implicated in cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients, suggesting that it could be effective in mitigating ARDS. Dr. Crapo and his teams at BioMimetix (Greenwood Village, CO) and National Jewish Health (NJH) will investigate the effects of BMX-001 on virus-induced cytokine storm in a mouse model of influenza H1N1 viral infection that has already been established by NJH. Positive data from the H1N1 model are critical to move BMX-001 into a human clinical trial to determine if it could be a new therapy to reduce pulmonary injury, morbidity, and mortality from COVID-19 and other viruses that cause virus-associated ARDS.