Bellerophon Therapeutics has treated the first Covid-19 patient with its INOpulse at the University of Miami School of Medicine in the US.

This comes after the company received emergency expanded access from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the inhaled nitric oxide system (iNO).

NO is a naturally produced molecule that plays a key role in the immune response against pathogens and infections.

In-vitro studies found that NO blocks the replication of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and improves the survival of infected cells.

Bellerophon Therapeutics CEO Fabian Tenenbaum said: “We believe the first patient with Covid-19 to start treatment with INOpulse could be a critical step in the fight against this pandemic due to the therapy’s potential to halt disease progression and reduce the need for ventilation support.

“Moreover, INOpulse’s ability to treat patients in the outpatient setting could help alleviate the mounting impact on the capacity of hospitals and intensive care units.”

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The company also noted data from previous studies where NO prevented SARS-CoV replication, improved arterial oxygenation and proliferation of lung infiltrates, as well as decreased the need for ventilation support.

As the novel coronavirus is genetically similar to SARS-CoV, iNO is expected to help treat Covid-19.

University of Miami School of Medicine assistant professor Roger Alvarez said: “Based on previous studies that demonstrate the benefits of iNO in oxygenation and immune response, INOpulse has the potential to be used as a viable treatment option for Covid-19.

“INOpulse’s ease of administration could significantly decrease the burden on therapists and nurses as they combat this pandemic with constrained resources.”

The company is working with the FDA to provide INOpulse to more patients at additional sites in the US. INOpulse is currently being developed for various cardiopulmonary indications.