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EBioMedicine ; 82: 104148, 2022 Jul 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1926364


BACKGROUND: To address the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, multiple clinical trials in humans were rapidly started, including those involving an oral treatment by nitazoxanide, despite no or limited pre-clinical evidence of antiviral efficacy. METHODS: In this work, we present a complete pre-clinical evaluation of the antiviral activity of nitazoxanide against SARS-CoV-2. FINDINGS: First, we confirmed the in vitro efficacy of nitazoxanide and tizoxanide (its active metabolite) against SARS-CoV-2. Then, we demonstrated nitazoxanide activity in a reconstructed bronchial human airway epithelium model. In a SARS-CoV-2 virus challenge model in hamsters, oral and intranasal treatment with nitazoxanide failed to impair viral replication in commonly affected organs. We hypothesized that this could be due to insufficient diffusion of the drug into organs of interest. Indeed, our pharmacokinetic study confirmed that concentrations of tizoxanide in organs of interest were always below the in vitro EC50. INTERPRETATION: These preclinical results suggest, if directly applicable to humans, that the standard formulation and dosage of nitazoxanide is not effective in providing antiviral therapy for Covid-19. FUNDING: This work was supported by the Fondation de France "call FLASH COVID-19", project TAMAC, by "Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale" through the REACTing (REsearch and ACTion targeting emerging infectious diseases), by REACTING/ANRS MIE under the agreement No. 21180 ('Activité des molécules antivirales dans le modèle hamster'), by European Virus Archive Global (EVA 213 GLOBAL) funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 871029 and DNDi under support by the Wellcome Trust Grant ref: 222489/Z/21/Z through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator".

Clin Pharmacol Ther ; 2022 May 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1858580


Chloroquine and azithromycin were developed in combination for the preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy, and more recently were proposed as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment options. Billions of doses of chloroquine have been administered worldwide over the past 70 years but concerns regarding cardiotoxicity, notably the risk of torsades de pointes (TdP), remain. This investigation aimed to characterize the pharmacokinetics and electrocardiographic effects of chloroquine and azithromycin observed in a large previously conducted healthy volunteer study. Healthy adult volunteers (n = 119) were randomized into 5 arms: placebo, chloroquine alone (600 mg base), or chloroquine with either 500 mg, 1,000 mg, or 1,500 mg of azithromycin all given daily for 3 days. Chloroquine and azithromycin levels, measured using liquid-chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, and electrocardiograph intervals were recorded at frequent intervals. Time-matched changes in the PR, QRS, and heart rate-corrected JT, and QT intervals were calculated and the relationship with plasma concentrations was evaluated using linear and nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. Chloroquine and azithromycin pharmacokinetics were described satisfactorily by two- and three-compartment distribution models, respectively. No drug-drug interaction between chloroquine and azithromycin was observed. Chloroquine resulted in concentration-dependent prolongation of the PR, QRS, JTc and QTc intervals with a minimal additional effect of azithromycin. QRS widening contributed ~ 28% of the observed QT prolongation. Chloroquine causes significant concentration-dependent delays in both ventricular depolarization and repolarization. Co-administration of azithromycin did not significantly increase these effects. The arrhythmogenic risk of TdP associated with chloroquine may have been substantially overestimated in studies which did not separate electrocardiograph QRS and JT prolongation.

Nat Commun ; 13(1): 719, 2022 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1692616


There is an urgent need for potent and selective antivirals against SARS-CoV-2. Pfizer developed PF-07321332 (PF-332), a potent inhibitor of the viral main protease (Mpro, 3CLpro) that can be dosed orally and that is in clinical development. We here report that PF-332 exerts equipotent in vitro activity against the four SARS-CoV-2 variants of concerns (VoC) and that it can completely arrest replication of the alpha variant in primary human airway epithelial cells grown at the air-liquid interface. Treatment of Syrian Golden hamsters with PF-332 (250 mg/kg, twice daily) completely protected the animals against intranasal infection with the beta (B.1.351) and delta (B.1.617.2) SARS-CoV-2 variants. Moreover, treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.617.2) infected animals with PF-332 completely prevented transmission to untreated co-housed sentinels.

COVID-19/drug therapy , Disease Models, Animal , Lactams/administration & dosage , Leucine/administration & dosage , Nitriles/administration & dosage , Proline/administration & dosage , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Viral Protease Inhibitors/administration & dosage , A549 Cells , Administration, Oral , Animals , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Cricetinae , Humans , Lactams/pharmacokinetics , Leucine/pharmacokinetics , Mesocricetus , Nitriles/pharmacokinetics , Proline/pharmacokinetics , Respiratory Mucosa/drug effects , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Vero Cells , Viral Protease Inhibitors/pharmacokinetics , Virus Replication/drug effects
Elife ; 92020 07 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-636307


Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are used extensively in malaria and rheumatological conditions, and now in COVID-19 prevention and treatment. Although generally safe they are potentially lethal in overdose. In-vitro data suggest that high concentrations and thus high doses are needed for COVID-19 infections, but as yet there is no convincing evidence of clinical efficacy. Bayesian regression models were fitted to survival outcomes and electrocardiograph QRS durations from 302 prospectively studied French patients who had taken intentional chloroquine overdoses, of whom 33 died (11%), and 16 healthy volunteers who took 620 mg base chloroquine single doses. Whole blood concentrations of 13.5 µmol/L (95% credible interval 10.1-17.7) were associated with 1% mortality. Prolongation of ventricular depolarization is concentration-dependent with a QRS duration >150 msec independently highly predictive of mortality in chloroquine self-poisoning. Pharmacokinetic modeling predicts that most high dose regimens trialled in COVID-19 are unlikely to cause serious cardiovascular toxicity.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are closely-related drugs used for the treatment of malaria and rheumatological conditions, such as lupus. Laboratory tests have indicated that these drugs could also be used against the virus that causes COVID-19. Given the urgent need, these drugs have been fast-tracked into large-scale clinical trials, bypassing the usual stages that would provide estimates for suitable dosage. The dosage is a critical factor in a clinical trial: too low and the drug will not have an effect, too high and the side effects may counteract any potential benefits. Laboratory tests suggest that higher doses of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are needed for treating COVID-19 compared to malaria or lupus. However, there are concerns about the high doses used in some trials, as the drugs can have lethal side effects. Indeed, chloroquine has been used extensively in suicide attempts, particularly in France. To address these concerns, Watson et al. set out to determine the highest dosage of chloroquine (and thus of hydroxychloroquine, approximately) that does not cause unacceptable side effects. First, data was analysed regarding the concentration of chloroquine in the blood of 302 patients who had intentionally overdosed on the drug, since this concentration is tightly correlated with their risk of death. Watson et al. used a statistical model to calculate the maximal chloroquine concentration in a person's blood associated with a one per cent risk of death. This is taken to be the threshold above which any potential benefit of chloroquine treatment would be outweighed by the possibility of lethal toxicity. Watson et al. also estimated the relationship between chloroquine concentrations and changes in electrocardiogram patterns, which record the electrical activity of the heart. This makes it possible to determine whether a high dose of chloroquine has led to dangerous levels in the blood. Using a mathematical model of how chloroquine is metabolised, Watson et al. predicted that most of the trials that tested chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 did not reach the calculated threshold concentration. An exception was the CloroCovid-19 trial in Brazil, which was stopped early because people in the higher dosage group suffered more heart problems and died in greater numbers than those in the lower dosage group. Two large randomised trials, RECOVERY and SOLIDARITY, have shown no benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, changing clinical practice worldwide. Both of these trials used high doses resulting in higher hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine concentrations than normally observed in the treatment of malaria or rheumatological conditions. The results from Watson et al demonstrate that the lack of benefit seen in these two large clinical trials is not due to the drug dosage being too high.

Chloroquine/poisoning , Drug Overdose/mortality , Suicide, Attempted , Suicide , Adult , Antimalarials/administration & dosage , Antimalarials/poisoning , Antimalarials/therapeutic use , Biotransformation , COVID-19 , Chloroquine/administration & dosage , Chloroquine/adverse effects , Chloroquine/analogs & derivatives , Chloroquine/blood , Chloroquine/therapeutic use , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Drug Repositioning , Electrocardiography , Female , Heart Diseases/chemically induced , Heart Diseases/mortality , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/administration & dosage , Hydroxychloroquine/adverse effects , Hydroxychloroquine/poisoning , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Long QT Syndrome/chemically induced , Malaria/drug therapy , Male , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic/statistics & numerical data , Risk Assessment