By World Healthcare Journal-
Global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is set to begin a large-scale clinical trial to assess the potential of a pre-existing drug in treating patients with Covid-19.
Researchers believe that the drug, Calquence, may be able to treat patients with Covid-19 who have undergone an extreme immune response to the virus, leading to a considerable increase in recovery time, severe illness, and even death.
The drug, known as a BTK inhibitor, is currently used as a treatment for certain types of lymphoma and cancers. The treatment slows down and inhibits the inflammatory immune response by blocking a protein known as Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinases (BTK).
However, the trial aims to further examine the effectiveness of Calquence in treating Covid-19 patients, following early clinical data which indicated the drug may reduce the severity of Covid-19 respiratory distress.
The ultimate goal of the trial, according to AstraZeneca, is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of adding the drug to supportive care lists for Covid-19, in order to “reduce mortality and the need for assisted ventilation in patients with life-threatening Covid-19 symptoms”.
The pharmaceutical group launched the trial in record time, planning to initiate the first part of the trial this week throughout the US and Europe, examining the effectiveness of the drug in patients who have been hospitalised with Covid-19. The second part of the trial will examine cohorts of patients with Covid-19 who are in intensive care units.
“With this trial, we are responding to the novel insights of the scientific community and hope to demonstrate that adding Calquence to best supportive care reduces the need to place patients on ventilators and improves their chances of survival. This is the fastest launch of any clinical trial in the history of AstraZeneca,” says José Baselga, Executive Vice President of Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca.
Louis M. Staudt, MD, PhD, Chief of the Lymphoid Malignancies Branch at the National Cancer Institute in the United States and Senior Investigator for AstraZeneca’s clinical trial, hopes that the drug’s previous success and effectiveness in cancer treatment will translate into treating patients with Covid-19.
“Given the well-documented role of the protein BTK in regulating inflammation, it is possible that inhibiting BTK with acalabrutinib (Calquence) could provide clinical benefit in patients with advanced COVID-19 lung disease. As with all new treatments, it will be necessary to gather data from clinical trials in order to understand the best and safest treatment options for patients,” Staudt says.
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