Early data from a clinical study indicates that an off-label cancer drug was beneficial to a small group of patients suffering from a severe form of COVID-19. Acalabrutinib, a drug used to fight cancer, works by blocking the Bruton tyrosine kinase protein and was approved to treat some forms of blood cancer. This drug was actually associated with reduced respiratory distress and a reduction in the overactive immune response in most of the patients suffering from severe COVID-19.
Currently, BTK inhibitors are not approved for the treatment of COVID-19. For the use of the drugs to be allowed, they must be tested in a controlled, randomized clinical trial, according to a team of researchers. The BTK protein is involved with macrophages, which are a kind of innate immune cell that causes inflammation through the production of proteins known as cytokines, which help stimulate the immune response of the human body.
The study explains that, in some patients suffering from a severe case of COVID-19, the body releases an enormous of cytokines at once, causing the immune system to damage the function of organs such as the lungs, besides attacking the COVID-19 infection. This study included 19 patients that were confirmed to suffer from COVID-19. The diagnosis of this patients required hospitalizations, as well as low blood-oxygen levels and severe inflammation.
Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, abbreviated as NIAID, in collaboration with a team from the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as well as four hospitals situated all over the United States, were involved in the aforementioned study. The results are definitely promising ones, and we hope that the study leads to some effective measures in combating the COVID-19 global pandemic.