Ann Arbor bioinformatics firm, Henry Ford Health claim effective COVID-19 treatment with generic steroid

ANN ARBOR—Advaita Bioinformatics, a biomedical data analysis firm, announced it had found a generic drug effective in preventing some of the worst effects of COVID-19 infection through a clinical study at Henry Ford Health System.

The drug, methylprednisolone, was identified using Advaita’s advanced artificial intelligence platform, iPathwayGuide. Company officials said it acts to prevent some of the worst effects of the infection, including overactive immune response that can destroy organs, including the so-called cytokine storm.

An independent clinical study of more than 200 patients undertaken at HFHS and led by Dr. Mayur S. Ramesh showed that a short course of methylprednisolone was able to “significantly reduce” transfers of COVID-19 patients to the intensive care unit, reduce the need for the use of mechanical ventilators, and reduce the death rate of those suffering from the disease. Advaita officials said the results of the study have been peer reviewed and submitted to a medical journal.

One important finding of the study: similar drugs in the same class may not have similar effects. For instance, methylprednisolone was predicted to revert COVID-19-induced changes in the body’s immune response to the disease, but other steroids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone, were not. It was also found that several drugs currently being investigated would not revert many changes induced by this disease.

Said Advaita CEO Sorin Draghici, PhD: “iPathwayGuide was able to identify a few drugs that would be effective, very quickly after data became available several weeks ago. We were surprised to see that several drugs proposed before were not expected do as well as the ones we identified. The fantastic work done at Henry Ford by Dr. Ramesh and his colleagues proved that our approach has clinical value. Hearing that the drug we identified actually saved lives was extremely rewarding. We have a few other drugs that are predicted to be effective and we are seeking additional clinical partners to demonstrate their validity.”

Added Ramesh: “We were very excited to see the very positive clinical results provided by methylprednisolone in the Henry Ford Health System. We have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths after we started treating patients with this drug. We are looking forward to exploring the clinical efficacy of the other repurposed drugs identified by Advaita’s drug repurposing platform.”

And Marcus Zervos, chief of infectious diseases at HFHS, added: “Drugs allowing us to avoid cytokine storms and hyper-inflammation will be useful in future pandemics, regardless of the pathogen.”

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