Clinically-proven COVID-19 treatment hypothesis

As the pandemic hit, we mobilised a specialist team to find an approved drug that could be repurposed as a treatment for COVID-19 and uncovered baricitinib as the strongest option. Baricitinib is now approved for emergency use in the US, Japan and India after being validated in global clinical trials, where it was shown to reduce deaths by 38%.

Latest News | Baricitinib granted emergency use approval in India

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validated hypothesis

Using our advanced drug repurposing workflows, we discovered previously unknown anti-viral properties of baricitinib, a drug owned by Eli Lilly, which was ultimately approved by the FDA for emergency use and proven to reduce mortality of hospitalised patients by 38%.

Our novel AI-derived hypothesis for baricitinib’s combined anti-viral and anti-inflammatory mechanism of action demonstrates the value of our approach and its ability to extract and infer new scientific information.

Together with bespoke COVID-19 workflow customisations, we used our Knowledge Graph and AI tools to search for approved drugs that could treat COVID-19, focusing on those that might block the viral infection process. We identified baricitinib, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, as the strongest candidate.

4 February 2020

Our first paper, published in The Lancet, predicted that baricitinib could reduce both the viral entry and the inflammation in COVID-19 patients.

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28 February 2020

In a second paper published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, we indicated that baricitinib reduces endocytosis and the body’s hyperinflammatory response to the virus, thus potentially reducing patient mortality.

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26 June 2020

Our AI-derived hypothesis was validated by experimental data which showed successful outcomes in the initial patients treated with baricitinib. This was published in the EMBO Journal by Eli Lilly, the Karolinska Institute, BenevolentAI and global frontline hospitals.

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Our hypothesis prompted global clinical trials of baricitinib alone or as part of combination therapy with anti-viral drugs (eg, remdesivir) for patients with moderate and severe COVID-19. Positive data from these clinical trials validated our AI-derived hypothesis, with Eli Lilly’s COV-BARRIER trial showing the largest reduction in mortality in the COVID-19 patient population reported to date.

10 April 2020 / 14 September 2020

Eli Lilly entered baricitinib into a randomised-control trial with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Data from the trial showed that baricitinib, in combination with remdesivir, reduces the recovery time in hospitalised patients with COVID-19.

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15 June 2020

Eli Lilly commenced an additional phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of baricitinib to treat COVID-19. Data from the trial demonstrated baricitinib reduces mortality by 38% - the most significant clinical effect reported to date for a reduction in mortality in this patient population.

Baricitinib is now being used to treat hospitalised patients around the world following a series of expedited Emergency Approvals. This was made possible by unprecedented scientific collaboration, Eli Lilly’s swift response to our initial hypothesis and results from subsequent large scale trials.

19 November 2020

The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorisation for baricitinib in combination with remdesivir to treat hospitalised COVID-19 patients based on data from the NIAID ACTT-2 trial.

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23 april 2021

Japan's health ministry approved the use of baricitinib for treating COVID-19 patients.

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16 JUNE 2021

The Indian Ministry of Health approved the restricted emergency use of baricitinib in India.

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29 july 2021

The FDA extended the Emergency Use Approval for baricitinib to be used as a solo treatment for COVID-19 in hospitalised adults and paediatric patients who need supplemental oxygen.

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Our research moved rapidly from computer to bench to bedside

Since being identified by our team in early January, baricitinib has been tested in global clinical trials and has been given emergency use authorisation to treat hospitalised patients in the US, Japan and India.