AstraZeneca wades into the ‘storm’ with fastest clinical trial in its history
The fastest launch of any clinical trial in the history of Cambridge-based Big Biotech, AstraZeneca, could lead to a treatment for the exaggerated immune response associated with COVID-19 infection in severely ill patients.
AstraZeneca is to initiate a randomised, global clinical trial to assess the potential of Calquence (acalabrutinib) in the treatment of what is known as a cytokine storm.
The trial design is based on strong scientific evidence supporting the role of the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) pathway in the production of inflammatory cytokines and on encouraging early clinical data.
Calquence is a next-generation, highly selective BTK inhibitor currently used to treat certain types of blood cancers.
The trial, called CALAVI, is based on early clinical data with Calquence demonstrating that a decrease in inflammation caused by BTK inhibition appears to reduce the severity of COVID-19-induced respiratory distress.
The goal of the trial is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of adding Calquence to best supportive care (BSC) to reduce mortality and the need for assisted ventilation in patients with life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms. This large, multicentre, global, randomised trial uses a two-part patient-centric design developed in record time to accelerate data capture and analysis.
Part one evaluates the addition of Calquence to BSC versus BSC alone in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 who are not in the intensive care unit (ICU). Part two evaluates the addition of Calquence to BSC in a cohort of patients in the ICU.
José Baselga, executive VP for Oncology R & D at AstraZeneca said: “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.”
The CALAVI trial is expected to open for enrolment in the coming days in the US and several countries in Europe.