AstraZeneca launches trial to assess whether diabetes medicine can be repurposed for Covid-19 patients
AstraZeneca has begun a global trial to assess whether one of its diabetes medicines could be repurposed for Covid-19 patients at risk of serious complications such as organ failure.
The Cambridge-headquartered company is working with Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute to explore the potential of the drug dapagliflozin, sold as Farxiga, in reducing the risk of disease progression, clinical complications and death for patients with cardiovascular, metabolic or kidney problems.
Poorer outcomes have been recorded for such patients who have been hospitalised with Covid-19.
Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, biopharmaceuticals R&D, said: “AstraZeneca is committed to finding new solutions to fight Covid-19 by investigating the application of our new and existing medicines.
“With the Phase III DARE-19 trial, we aim to test whether Farxiga can prevent serious complications such as organ failure in those patients with pre-existing health conditions, a critical goal when treating Covid-19.”
The design of the randomised, double-blind global trial is supported by extensive data on the protective effect of Farxiga in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, chronic kidney disease or type 2 diabetes.
Mikhail N Kosiborod, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, and vice president of research at Saint Luke's Health System, is the principal investigator of the DARE-19 trial.
He said: “Dapagliflozin has demonstrated cardio and renal protective benefits and improved outcomes in high-risk patients with type-2 diabetes, heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, and chronic kidney disease.
“Patients with Covid-19 and underlying cardiometabolic disease appear to be at the highest risk of morbid complications.
“Through DARE-19, we hope to decrease the severity of illness, and prevent cardiovascular, respiratory and kidney decompensation, which are common in patients with COVID-19.”
The trial is open for enrolment in the US and other European countries with a high Covid-19 burden and aims to recruit approximately 900 patients.
AstraZeneca also began a clinical trial in record time of its blood cancer drug Calquence (acalabrutinib) to assess its effectiveness at decreasing inflammation and reducing the severity of Covid-19 induced respiratory distress in severely ill patients.
The company is also working on new antibody therapies, which it hopes to trial in three to five months.