A cancer drug to help patients COVID

A drug recently used for the treatment of several blood cancers could also prove to be beneficial for some patients of the COVID-19 with severe forms of the disease.

The acalabrutinib, which bears the trade name of Calquence, is an oral treatment used since 2017 in the United States for people with mantle cell lymphoma relapsed or refractory. It is allowed in Canada since 2019 for this purpose.

In a study on a small group of patients infected by the coronavirus in the United States, this drug has been associated with a reduction of respiratory distress and the prevention of a response is disproportionate and dangerous to the immune system.

The drug was given to 19 patients who were hospitalized for a severe infection to the COVID-19, of which 11 were receiving supplemental oxygen and eight were connected to an artificial respirator.

“Substantial decrease “

“In one to three days, the majority of the patients in the group receiving supplemental oxygen experienced a substantial decrease in inflammation, and their breathing was improved,” can we read in a press release issued by researchers affiliated with the us federal agencies (the national cancer Institute and the national Institute of allergy and infectious diseases) and to a military hospital.

Concerning the patients who required an artificial respirator, and who were therefore even more suffering, four of the eight have seen their condition improve, but the two are finally dead. These results were published last Friday in the journal Science Immunology.

The authors of the study believe that the acalabrutinib may help some patients with the COVID-19, because it targets and disables a particular protein which is present in the immune system of the body called Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK).

Storms cytokines

This protein can sometimes do more harm than good because it would help in the storms of cytokines, an inflammatory reaction of the immune system so violent that it sometimes results in death and that has been observed in some patients with the COVID-19.

The researchers warn, however, that further studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis and that the acalabrutinib as an experimental treatment against the COVID-19 has not been approved to date.

“This strategy must be tested in a randomized, controlled clinical trial to better understand the treatment options the best and the safest for patients with a severe form of the COVID-19 “, they write.

— With the collaboration of the QMI Agency

Differences in the blood of patients infected with the coronavirus

We can detect differences in the blood of patients with the COVID-19, which could predict the trajectory of the sick when they are taken care of at the hospital, hope to researchers in germany and the uk.

The experts affiliated to the university Hospital of the Berlin Charité and the institute Francis Crick of London have collected blood from 31 individuals hospitalized for the new coronavirus, whose health status ranged from mild to severe.

The analyses carried out with the help of a cutting-edge technology have enabled us to identify 27 proteins whose quantity in the plasma samples varied according to the severity of the disease, describe the researchers in a press release.

These proteins are “biomarkers,” or biological indicators that could be used to predict the progression of the disease, they argue.

Save lives

To demonstrate this, they analysed blood samples of 17 other patients with the COVID-19 and 15 healthy individuals.

The expression of the proteins has enabled us to accurately sort the patients “, according to the officials of this study.

“A blood test early would allow the treating physician to predict whether a patient COVID-19 will develop or not severe symptoms, which could potentially save lives,” says Dr. Markus Ralser, from the Hospital of the Charity.

This information, if they were at the fingertips of physicians, would be helpful to orient more quickly to the patients to treatments tailored to their condition.

“The sooner the doctors know which patients will need intensive care, the sooner they can consider treatment, depending on the options available,” insists the biochemist.


In a hospital setting, this approach would help the staff to refine the diagnostics, since the evaluation of a patient’s symptoms does not always give an “accurate picture of their true state of health,” says Dr Ralser.

Moreover, the simple fact of having identified 27 proteins associated with the coronavirus, or biomarkers, could provide the scientific community with new trails to explore in the search for a cure, ” says the team of researchers.

It now intends to continue its work to better understand how these biomarkers evolve during the disease.

— With the QMI Agency

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