University Hospital Inselspital – Tocilizumab

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that has a range of biological effects on immune cells, as it regulates immune responses, hematopoiesis, and inflammation. When trauma or infection occur, IL-6 is actively synthesized in order to help the body respond to them. However, excessive production of IL-6 is known to produce various complications and chronic immune-mediated disorders [1].

Tocilizumab is a humanized anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody that can block excessive IL-6 production, thus mitigating rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and Castleman disease. As COVID-19 involves a “cytokine storm”, it is hypothesized based on recent case reports that the application of tocilizumab can improve outcomes of patients with this disease [2, 3].

University Hospital Inselspital in Berne has initiated CORON-ACT, a Phase 2, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of tocilizumab in 100 participants to determine whether it reduces severity and mortality in patients with COVID-19 [4]. Both primary and full study results are expected in October 2020.


  1. Kang, S., Tanaka, T., & Kishimoto, T. (2015). Therapeutic uses of anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody. International immunology, 27(1), 21-29.
  2. First case of COVID-19 in a patient with multiple myeloma successfully treated with tocilizumab
  3. Tocilizumab, an anti-IL6 receptor antibody, to treat Covid-19-related respiratory failure: a case report
  4. CORON-ACT – a Multicenter, Double-blind, Randomized Controlled Phase II Trial on the Efficacy and Safety of Tocilizumab in the Treatment of Coronavirus Induced Disease (COVID-19)