Targeting TGF-beta pathway with COVID-19 Drug Candidate ARTIVeda/PulmoHeal Accelerates Recovery from Mild-Moderate COVID-19

Author(s): Vuong Trieu, Saran Saund, Prashant V. Rahate, Viljay B. Barge, K. Sunil Nalk, Hitesh Windlass, Fatih M. Uckun

Our COVID-19 drug candidate ARTIVedaTM/PulmoHeal is a novel gelatin capsule formulation of the Artemisia extract Ayurveda for oral delivery of TGF-β targeting anti-malaria phytomedicine Artemisinin with documented anti-inflammatory and anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity. Here we report the safety and efficacy of ARTIVedaTM in adult COVID-19 patients with symptomatic mild-moderate COVID-19, who were treated in a randomized, open-label Phase 4 study in Bangalore, Karnataka, India (Clinical Trials Registry India identifier: CTRI/2020/09/028044). ARTIVeda showed a very favorable safety profile, and the only ARTIVeda-related adverse events were transient mild rash and mild hypertension. Notably, ARTIVeda, when added to the SOC, accelerated the recovery of patients with mild-moderate COVID-19. While all patients were symptomatic at baseline (WHO score=2-4), 31 of 39 (79.5%) of patients treated with ARTIVeda plus SOC became asymptomatic (WHO score=1) by the end of the 5-day therapy, including 10 of 10 patients with severe dry cough 7 of 7 patients with severe fever. By comparison, 12 of 21 control patients (57.1%) treated with SOC alone became asymptomatic on day 5 (p=0.028, Fisher’s exact test). This clinical benefit was particularly evident when the treatment outcomes of hospitalized COVID-19 patients (WHO score=4) treated with SOC alone versus SOC plus ARTIVeda were compared. The median time to becoming asymptomatic was only 5 days for the SOC plus ARTIVeda group (N=18) but 14 days for the SOC alone group (N=10) (p=0.004, Log-rank test). These data provide clinical proof of concept that targeting the TGF-β pathway with ARTIVeda may contribute to a faster recovery of patients with mild-moderate COVID-19 when administered early in the course of their disease.