07/08 News Flash 1: Repurposing existing anticancer drugs to combat SARS-COV-2

Image courtesy of Flickr.

As no treatment has been shown to effectively combat the SARS-COV-2 virus yet, looking towards existing drugs may hasten this identification process. A cohort of researchers suggest repurposing anticancer drugs— COVID-19 and cancer both share pathophysiological qualities.

Such anticancer treatments flipped for COVID-19 include tocilizumab, which blocks the interleukin-6-binding site and manages the cytokine release syndrome that ravages severe COVID-19 patients. Additionally, CAR-T-cell therapy, where a patient’s T cells are modified to target and destroy cancer cells, is also being studied in COVID-19 clinical trials. Several other cell and gene therapies are being tested for efficacy against COVID-19 as well.

Patients treated with tocilizumab have made available preliminary data— in one particular trial, the need for ventilation or death on the fourteenth day of COVID-19 progression (the primary efficacy endpoint), was reached in a significantly lower proportion of patients treated with tocilizumab. In another study that followed anticoagulation therapy (which counters thrombosis, a quality of both COVID-19 and cancer), treatment-receiving patients demonstrated lower mortality rates and higher days of survival.