COVID-19 Treatment: Bemcentinib, Heparin and 3 other drugs to be tested by UK in their ACCORD programme
About 30 different hospitals in the UK are set to try five different drugs for COVID-19 treatment in phase II trials, as per a report by the Guardian.
The drugs are a part of the ACCORD (Accelerating, COVID-19 Research & Development platform) programme that was set up earlier in April to check the effectiveness of various drugs for the treatment of coronavirus infection.
According to an April 29 news release by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), ACCORD is made possible by a collaboration between the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) UK, a clinical research company IQVIA and the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
DHSC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are funding the programme.
As the number of coronavirus patients is going down in the UK, the trial hasn’t got a lot of patients so far. However, the researchers are planning to include at least 60 patients in each arm of the trial. A total of six drugs will be initially tested out of 200 candidates.
If any drug succeeds in giving results, it will go into a larger study with more patients.
The five drugs
Out of the six drugs, only five have been revealed so far. Here are the five drugs that are currently being tested:
1. Bemcentinib: Bemcentinib was the first drug candidate in ACCORD platform that was revealed by the DHSC in their April 29 press release. This drug was developed by the biopharmaceutical company BerGenBio. It has shown potent antiviral action against various viruses including Zika and Ebola and now the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This drug inhibits the activity of an enzyme AXL kinase and prevents the entry of the virus into host cells. It also promotes interferon-gamma - 1 response in the body. Interferon-gamma - 1 has a strong antiviral action. As per media reports, the first patient under the trial was given Bemcentinib today at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The phase II study will have 120 patients - 60 will receive the drug and 60 will be given a placebo.
2. Heparin: Heparin is a blood thinner that will be given to patients next month. It can reportedly prevent viral entry into cells and may also reduce inflammation. Studies show that heparin prevents blood clotting in COVID-19 patients and also prevents arrhythmia. Also, it is more widely available and can be easily mass-produced.
3. Zilucoplan: Zilucoplan is an anti-inflammatory drug. It was developed by the Belgian company UCB biopharmaceuticals and is in phase 3 of its studies for myasthenia gravis treatment. Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that occurred when the connections between muscles and nerve cells break down. It leads to severe muscle weakness. As per a trial listed by UCB on clinicaltrials.gov, a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world, Zilucoplan can inhibit lung injury in COVID-19 patients and can improve lung oxygenation.
4. Calquence (generic name - Acalabrutinib): Acalabrutinib is an AstraZeneca drug which is used to treat some types of cancers. It is an inhibitor of an enzyme called Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK). BTK blocks the action of a protein that causes cancer cell multiplication. Early clinical reports suggest that calquence can reduce inflammation - one of the characteristics of severe COVID-19 .
5. Medi3506: Medi3506 is a type of anti-inflammatory monoclonal antibody developed by MedImmune, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca. It is currently being tested for the treatment of atopic dermatitis and diabetic nephropathy. In the case of COVID-19 , Medi3506 can reportedly help control the excess inflammation and help manage the immune system overdrive (also known as a cytokine storm).
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