Clinical trial underway to test if drug for rare bone marrow cancer will keep the sickest coronavirus patients off of ventilators by stopping the virus from copying itself
- Selinexor, which is made by Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc, is currently approved treat multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in white blood cells
- Researchers say the drug blocks a protein that allows the virus to multiply in our cells and plays a role in the inflammatory response
- The goal of the trial is to see if the most critically ill coronavirus patients can be kept off of ventilators
- More than 230 patients have been enrolled in the study across 40 hospitals in the US, Europe and Israel
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A clinical trial is underway to test if a drug for a rare bone marrow cancer works as an experimental coronavirus treatment.
Selinexor, known by its brand name Xpovio, is made by Massachusetts-based Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc and is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in white blood cells.
Researchers say the medication prevents the virus from replicating, or multiplying, in patients’ cells.
According to Karyopharm, the goal of the trial is to see if a low dose of the drug can keep the most critically ill patients off of ventilators.
Selinexor (pictured) is currently approved treat multiple myeloma. Researchers say the drug blocks a protein that allows the virus to multiply in our cells and plays a role in the inflammatory response
The goal of the trial is to see if the most critically ill coronavirus patients can be kept off of ventilators. Pictured: A COVID-19 patient is attached to a ventilator in the emergency room at St Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers, NY, April 20
Selinexor blocks the protein XPO1, which plays a role in replicating the virus throughout the body and in the body’s inflammatory response.
The team believes the drug will also help reduce the over-production of cytokines, known as a cytokine storm.
This occurs when the body attacks its own cells and tissues instead of just fighting off the virus.
More than 230 patients have been enrolled in the second phase of the study, which is taking place in 40 hospitals across the US, Europe and Israel.
Researchers compared patients taking 20mg of selinexor orally three times a week for two weeks to patients taking a placebo
‘We’re encouraged by what we are seeing,’ Karyopharm CEO Dr Michael Kauffman told NBC Boston.
‘We haven’t seen any safety issues that we are worried about. So it seems to be a tolerated therapy, which is important.’
Selinexor isn’t the only cancer drug being used as an experimental treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Chimerix, a company based in North Carolina is planning a clinical trial to test if drug derived from the blood thinner heparin for a form of leukemia reduces bleeding and inflammation in coronavirus patients.
Additionally, a clinical trial is underway at Stanford Medicine to see if a drug called interferon-lambda – used to treat other viruses, and cancer – can keep people who have recently tested positive for coronavirus out of the hospital.
‘We all need to work as hard as we possibly can and as fast as we can to study all different approaches and try to knock this thing on its head so we can help people recover and can move on,’ Kauffman told NBC Boston.
In the US, there are currently more than 1.4 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 85,000 deaths.
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