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Lancet Respir Med ; 9(5): 533-544, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1537202


Cough is one of the most common presenting symptoms of COVID-19, along with fever and loss of taste and smell. Cough can persist for weeks or months after SARS-CoV-2 infection, often accompanied by chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment, dyspnoea, or pain-a collection of long-term effects referred to as the post-COVID syndrome or long COVID. We hypothesise that the pathways of neurotropism, neuroinflammation, and neuroimmunomodulation through the vagal sensory nerves, which are implicated in SARS-CoV-2 infection, lead to a cough hypersensitivity state. The post-COVID syndrome might also result from neuroinflammatory events in the brain. We highlight gaps in understanding of the mechanisms of acute and chronic COVID-19-associated cough and post-COVID syndrome, consider potential ways to reduce the effect of COVID-19 by controlling cough, and suggest future directions for research and clinical practice. Although neuromodulators such as gabapentin or opioids might be considered for acute and chronic COVID-19 cough, we discuss the possible mechanisms of COVID-19-associated cough and the promise of new anti-inflammatories or neuromodulators that might successfully target both the cough of COVID-19 and the post-COVID syndrome.

COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/physiopathology , Cough/etiology , Inflammation/etiology , Nervous System Diseases/etiology , Neuroimmunomodulation , Cough/physiopathology , Humans , Inflammation/physiopathology , Nervous System Diseases/physiopathology , SARS-CoV-2 , Syndrome
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(11)2021 May 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389398


Trypsin-like proteases (TLPs) belong to a family of serine enzymes with primary substrate specificities for the basic residues, lysine and arginine, in the P1 position. Whilst initially perceived as soluble enzymes that are extracellularly secreted, a number of novel TLPs that are anchored in the cell membrane have since been discovered. Muco-obstructive lung diseases (MucOLDs) are characterised by the accumulation of hyper-concentrated mucus in the small airways, leading to persistent inflammation, infection and dysregulated protease activity. Although neutrophilic serine proteases, particularly neutrophil elastase, have been implicated in the propagation of inflammation and local tissue destruction, it is likely that the serine TLPs also contribute to various disease-relevant processes given the roles that a number of these enzymes play in the activation of both the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR2). More recently, significant attention has focused on the activation of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 by host TLPs. The purpose of this review was to highlight key TLPs linked to the activation of ENaC and PAR2 and their association with airway dehydration and inflammatory signalling pathways, respectively. The role of TLPs in viral infectivity will also be discussed in the context of the inhibition of TLP activities and the potential of these proteases as therapeutic targets.

COVID-19/enzymology , Lung Diseases, Obstructive/enzymology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Trypsin/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/pathology , Epithelial Sodium Channels/metabolism , Humans , Lung Diseases, Obstructive/pathology , Receptor, PAR-2/metabolism
Trials ; 21(1): 691, 2020 Jul 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-699024


OBJECTIVES: Stage 1: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of candidate agents as add-on therapies to standard of care (SoC) in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in a screening stage. Stage 2: To confirm the efficacy of candidate agents selected on the basis of evidence from Stage 1 in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in an expansion stage. TRIAL DESIGN: ACCORD is a seamless, Phase 2, adaptive, randomised controlled platform study, designed to rapidly test candidate agents in the treatment of COVID-19. Designed as a master protocol with each candidate agent being included via its own sub-protocol, initially randomising equally between each candidate and a single contemporaneous SoC arm (which can adapt into 2:1). Candidate agents currently include bemcentinib, MEDI3506, acalabrutinib, zilucoplan and nebulised heparin. For each candidate a total of 60 patients will be recruited in Stage 1. If Stage 1 provides evidence of efficacy and acceptable safety the candidate will enter Stage 2 where a total of approximately 126 patients will be recruited into each study arm sub-protocol. Enrollees and outcomes will not be shared across the Stages; the endpoint, analysis and sample size for Stage 2 may be adjusted based on evidence from Stage 1. Additional arms may be added as new potential candidate agents are identified via candidate agent specific sub-protocols. PARTICIPANTS: The study will include hospitalised adult patients (≥18 years) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19, that clinically meet Grades 3 (hospitalised - mild disease, no oxygen therapy), Grades 4 (hospitalised, oxygen by mask or nasal prongs) and 5 (hospitalised, non-invasive ventilation or high flow oxygen) of the WHO Working Group on the Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 9-point category ordinal scale. Participants will be recruited from England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR: Comparator is current standard of care (SoC) for the treatment of COVID-19. Current candidate experimental arms include bemcentinib, MEDI3506, acalabrutinib, zilucoplan and nebulised heparin with others to be added over time. Bemcentinib could potentially reduce viral infection and blocks SARS-CoV-2 spike protein; MEDI3506 is a clinic-ready anti-IL-33 monoclonal antibody with the potential to treat respiratory failure caused by COVID; acalabrutinib is a BTK inhibitor which is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory; zilucoplan is a complement C5 inhibitor which may block the severe inflammatory response in COVID-19 and; nebulised heparin has been shown to bind with the spike protein. ACCORD is linked with the UK national COVID therapeutics task force to help prioritise candidate agents. MAIN OUTCOMES: Time to sustained clinical improvement of at least 2 points (from randomisation) on the WHO 9-point category ordinal scale, live discharge from the hospital, or considered fit for discharge (a score of 0, 1, or 2 on the ordinal scale), whichever comes first, by Day 29 (this will also define the "responder" for the response rate analyses). RANDOMISATION: An electronic randomization will be performed by Cenduit using Interactive Response Technology (IRT). Randomisation will be stratified by baseline severity grade. Randomisation will proceed with an equal allocation to each arm and a contemporaneous SoC arm (e.g. 1:1 if control and 1 experimental arm; 1:1:1 if two experimental candidate arms etc) but will be reviewed as the trial progresses and may be changed to 2:1 in favour of the candidate agents. BLINDING (MASKING): The trial is open label and no blinding is currently planned in the study. NUMBERS TO BE RANDOMISED (SAMPLE SIZE): This will be in the order of 60 patients per candidate agent for Stage 1, and 126 patients for Stage 2. However, sample size re-estimation may be considered after Stage 1. It is estimated that up to 1800 patients will participate in the overall study. TRIAL STATUS: Master protocol version ACCORD-2-001 - Master Protocol (Amendment 1) 22nd April 2020, the trial has full regulatory approval and recruitment is ongoing in the bemcentinib (first patient recruited 6/5/2020), MEDI3506 (first patient recruited 19/5/2020), acalabrutinib (first patient recruited 20/5/2020) and zilucoplan (first patient recruited 19/5/2020) candidates (and SoC). The recruitment dates of each arm will vary between candidate agents as they are added or dropped from the trial, but will have recruited and reported within a year. TRIAL REGISTRATION: EudraCT 2020-001736-95 , registered 28th April 2020. FULL PROTOCOL: The full protocol (Master Protocol with each of the candidate sub-protocols) is attached as an additional file, accessible from the Trials website (Additional file 1). In the interest in expediting dissemination of this material, the familiar formatting has been eliminated; this Letter serves as a summary of the key elements of the full protocol.

Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Antiviral Agents/adverse effects , Benzamides/therapeutic use , COVID-19 , Hospitalization , Humans , Pandemics , Pyrazines/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Standard of Care