Dr. David Fajgenbaum, who leads the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, is on the front line of aiding doctors fighting the novel coronavirus.

After saving his own life with a repurposed drug, a professor reviews every drug being tried against Covid-19. Here's what he's found

Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT) June 28, 2020

(CNN)Every morning, Dr. David Fajgenbaum takes three life-saving pills. He wakes up his 21-month-old daughter Amelia to help feed her. He usually grabs some Greek yogurt to eat quickly before sitting down in his home office.

Then he spends most of the next 14 hours leading dozens of fellow researchers and volunteers in a systematic review of all the drugs that physicians and researchers have used so far to treat Covid-19. His team has already pored over more than 8,000 papers on how to treat coronavirus patients.
The 35-year-old associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine leads the school's Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory. For the last few years, he has dedicated his life to studying Castleman disease, a rare condition that nearly claimed his life.
Against epic odds, he found a drug that saved his own life six years ago, by creating a collaborative method for organizing medical research that could be applicable to thousands of human diseases.
But after seeing how the same types of flares of immune-signaling cells, called cytokine storms, kill both Castleman and Covid-19 patients alike, his lab has devoted nearly all of its resources to aiding doctors fighting the pandemic.
During a cytokine storm, the body's overactive immune response begins to attack its own cells rather than just the virus. When that inflammatory response occurs in Covid-19 patients, cytokines are often the culprit for the severe lung damage, organ failure, blood clots or pneumonia that kills them.
Having personal experience tamping down his own cytokine responses gives him a unique insight.
"I'm alive because of a repurposed drug," he said.
Now, repurposing old drugs to fight similar symptoms caused by a novel virus has become a global imperative.
Researchers from Fajgenbaum's lab gather in a video call to discuss Covid-19 treatment data.