Roivant Sciences announced today that it is working with regulators in the United States and around the world to advance the clinical development of Gimsilumab, an anti-body that could prevent and treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which has been widely connected to the COVID-19 virus. 2011 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Vivek Ramaswamy, the child of immigrants from India, is the CEO and founder of Roivant Sciences.
“Gimsilumab is a clinical-stage, fully human monoclonal antibody targeting granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). GM-CSF is a pro-inflammatory cytokine found to be up-regulated in the serum of COVID-19 patients according to recent data from patients in China,” according to Roivant’s press release. Gimsilumab has been tested in a number of non-clinical studies and two clinical studies, including a four-week Phase One study that Roivant conducted last month.
“Gimsilumab has demonstrated a favorable safety and tolerability profile based on data collected to date, with no serious adverse events reported,” according to the press release.
“Up-regulation of GM-CSF appears to characterize progression to ARDS and death in COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Volkmann, founder and co-director of the UCLA Connective Tissue Disease-Related Interstitial Lung Disease Program. “Targeting GM-CSF represents a promising strategy for curbing lung damage while allowing time for the virus to clear. It is my hope that gimsilumab will reduce mortality from COVID-19 and help improve the lives of those affected by this emerging public health crisis.”
“We are proud to do our part and help develop therapeutics for an emerging public health crisis. I hope for the sake of patients that we succeed,” Vivek said.
Vivek was born in Cincinnati to Indian parents. In high school he was class valedictorian, a nationally ranked junior tennis player and an accomplished pianist. He graduated from Harvard College in 2007, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a major in biology. Later he entered Yale Law School.
While at Harvard, a precis of his senior thesis, on the ethical questions raised by creating human-animal chimeras was published in the Boston Globe and The New York Times. He was chairman of the Harvard Political Union and served as one of three undergraduates chosen for an advisory board for the selection of the current president of Harvard. During his senior year, Vivek co-founded StudentBusinesses.com, a technology startup company which connected entrepreneurs with professional resources via the internet, and he led the company to its acquisition in 2009.
After Harvard college, Vivek worked for three years in life sciences investing in New York before pursuing his law degree at Yale Law School.
Founded in 2014, Roivant is parent to a family of subsidiary companies focused on rescuing drugs that have been through initial testing and abandoned by other drug companies. Roivant works with other pharmaceutical companies and universities to complete testing and development. ∎