UC Davis launches two clinical trials to evaluate treatments for COVID-19

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Mar 27 2020

UC Davis Health has two clinical trials underway for hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

The studies are evaluating the safety and effectiveness of two drugs — the investigational antiviral remdesivir, and sarilumab, a drug that blocks the body’s acute inflammatory response.

We have a critical need to confirm safe and effective treatments for COVID-19. Although some patients with severe infection have received remdesivir, we do not have solid data to indicate it can improve clinical outcomes for everyone. The nation’s schools of medicine have the expertise and resources to advance knowledge about the infection to help guide the clinical care of patients worldwide.”

Critical guidance to identify COVID-19 patients at risk of drug-induced sudden cardiac death

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Mar 25 2020

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to spread, leading to more than 20,000 deaths worldwide in less than four months. Efforts are progressing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, but it’s still likely 12 to 18 months away.

In the meantime, the pandemic, with over 400,000 confirmed cases worldwide already, is driving researchers to find safe and effective therapies for patients with COVID-19, and an antimalarial drug is potentially on the front lines of that effort. While new and repurposed drugs are being tested in clinical trials, some of these promising drugs are simultaneously being used off-label for compassionate use to treat patients.

Why hoarding of hydroxychloroquine needs to stop

A family of old antimalarial drugs — including one that some patients rely on to treat their lupus or rheumatoid arthritis — is becoming harder to get in the United States, pharmacists say, partly because of remarks President Donald Trump has made, highlighting the drugs as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

“I feel good about it. That’s all it is, just a feeling,” Trump said during a White House briefing Thursday about hydroxychloroquine. “You’re going to see soon enough.” He again trumpeted his interest in the approach at a press conference Monday.

Huge WHO trial of COVID-19 therapies begins

As the world reels from the devastating impact and the looming threat of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, researchers around the globe are racing to find a cure that will reduce symptom severity and reverse the course of the disease, freeing up more hospital space and making it possible to treat more of the severely affected cases.

CEL-SCI collaborates with UGA Center for Vaccines and Immunology to develop LEAPS COVID-19 immunotherapy

Mar 23 2020

CEL-SCI Corporation announced today it has signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Georgia’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology to develop LEAPS COVID-19 immunotherapy. CEL-SCI’s immunotherapy candidate aims to treat patients at highest risk of dying from COVID-19. The collaboration will commence with pre-clinical studies based on the experiments previously conducted with LEAPS immunotherapy in collaboration with the National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) against another respiratory virus, H1N1, involved in the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. Those successful studies demonstrated that LEAPS peptides, given after virus infection has occurred, reduced morbidity and mortality in mice infected with H1N1.

Cumulative doses of oral steroids associated with increased hypertension

Cumulative doses of oral steroids in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases are associated with increased hypertension (blood pressure) for those who take them regularly, found new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The cumulative effect of oral steroid doses on hypertension is substantial, and given that these are commonly prescribed medications, the related health burden could be high.”

Dr. Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects one in five adults around the world and can have significant negative health effects. Previous studies have reported a dose-related response between oral steroids and hypertension, although evidence has been inconclusive.

Newly discovered molecule in the lymphatic system could play a role in autoimmune diseases

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Mar 22 2020

A study by investigators at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) has discovered a molecule in the lymphatic system that has the potential to play a role in autoimmune disease. The study, “Lymph node stromal CCL2 limits antibody responses,” was published online today in the journal Science Immunology.

Lead investigator Theresa Lu, MD, PhD, senior scientist in the Autoimmunity and Inflammation Program at the HSS Research Institute, and colleagues launched the study to gain a better understanding of how the immune system works.

Study unravels molecular mechanism behind autoimmune and inflammatory diseases

A study by the research team of Prof. Geert van Loo (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) has unraveled a critical molecular mechanism behind autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis. They discovered how the protein A20 prevents inflammation and autoimmunity, not through its enzymatic activities as has been proposed, but through a non-enzymatic mechanism. These findings open up new possibilities for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. The results of the study are published in the leading journal Nature Immunology.

Tiny scorpion-derived proteins deliver arthritis drugs to joints in preclinical study

Scientists have identified a tiny protein in scorpion venom that rapidly accumulates in joint cartilage. Then they linked these mini-proteins with steroids to reverse inflammation in rats with arthritis. The researchers found that the drugs concentrated in the joints, potentially avoiding the body-wide toxicities and infection risks caused by nontargeted steroid treatment.
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Asthma and COPD can increase risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were each associated with increased risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis in a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Inflamed airways may contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis, but the role of chronic airway diseases in the development of rheumatoid arthritis is unclear.

In this study of 205,153 women, the researchers identified 15,148 women with asthma and 3,573 with COPD as well as 1,060 women who later developed rheumatoid arthritis over a median follow-up of approximately 24 years.