What is tocilizumab?
What is tocilizumab? Thanks for asking!
Tocilizumab is a prescription drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis patients in over 100 countries. It’s administered by intravenous infusion in medical centres and hospitals, or by subcutaneous injection, which patients can carry out at home. In some cases, it has shown potential effectiveness in treating critically ill covid-19 patients.
What is the power of tocilizumab?
Tocilizumab was developed in the early 2000s by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-La Roche. Its trade names are Actemra and RoActemra and it is a humanized monoclonal antibody, which blocks the interleukin-6 receptor. Believe it or not, the main danger to critically ill patients isn’t the coronavirus itself, but the response the body has in trying to fight it. That’s because the immune system can sometimes harm healthy cells by overreacting to the threat of a disease. One such example is a cytokine storm, which can lead to excessive inflammation. Cytokines are proteins which are important in cell signaling. When an illness occurs, they are released to mobilize defensive forces in the infected part of the body. Cytokine signalling usually ceases once the infection threat fades. But in the case of a cytokine storm, the alarm continues to sound, calling more and more cells and molecules. These end up causing more harm than the disease itself.
So, is there a chance that tocilizumab could work? Or is tocilizumab the new chloroquine? In under 3 minutes, we answer your questions!
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