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Sci Adv ; 7(1)2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388432


Using AI, we identified baricitinib as having antiviral and anticytokine efficacy. We now show a 71% (95% CI 0.15 to 0.58) mortality benefit in 83 patients with moderate-severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia with few drug-induced adverse events, including a large elderly cohort (median age, 81 years). An additional 48 cases with mild-moderate pneumonia recovered uneventfully. Using organotypic 3D cultures of primary human liver cells, we demonstrate that interferon-α2 increases ACE2 expression and SARS-CoV-2 infectivity in parenchymal cells by greater than fivefold. RNA-seq reveals gene response signatures associated with platelet activation, fully inhibited by baricitinib. Using viral load quantifications and superresolution microscopy, we found that baricitinib exerts activity rapidly through the inhibition of host proteins (numb-associated kinases), uniquely among antivirals. This reveals mechanistic actions of a Janus kinase-1/2 inhibitor targeting viral entry, replication, and the cytokine storm and is associated with beneficial outcomes including in severely ill elderly patients, data that incentivize further randomized controlled trials.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Azetidines/pharmacology , COVID-19/mortality , Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , Janus Kinases/antagonists & inhibitors , Liver/virology , Purines/pharmacology , Pyrazoles/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Sulfonamides/pharmacology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Cytokine Release Syndrome , Cytokines/metabolism , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Female , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Interferon alpha-2/metabolism , Italy , Janus Kinases/metabolism , Liver/drug effects , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Safety , Platelet Activation , Proportional Hazards Models , RNA-Seq , Spain , Virus Internalization/drug effects
Drugs ; 80(18): 1929-1946, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-871600


BACKGROUND: Based on current evidence, recent guidelines of the National Institute of Health, USA indicated the use of remdesivir and dexamethasone for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with mild-moderate disease, not requiring high-flow oxygen. No therapeutic agent directed against the immunologic pathogenic mechanisms related to the cytokine release syndrome complicating the disease was indicated. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this review was to assess the clinical impact of different therapies for COVID-19; thus, helping to identify the optimal management of the disease. To explain the rationale for the different therapeutic approaches, the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the pathogenesis of COVID-19, and the immune response triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection were reported. METHODS: The efficacy assessment of the different treatments was performed by a systematic review in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). Available English language published articles including randomised controlled trials, open-label trials of antivirals and immune therapies extracted from Medline, Google Scholar, and MedRxiv databases were analysed. For inclusion, the primary end point of the trials had to be the efficacy as measured by the improvement of clinical features, or mortality, or the Intensive Care Unit Admission rate, or the discharge number. Case reports, paediatric studies, and studies without control group were excluded. The literature search was extended up to August 15, 2020. RESULTS: After the removal of duplicate articles, and the exclusion of studies not meeting the eligibility criteria, 2 trials of lopinavir/ritonavir, 1 of favipiravir, 3 of remdesivir, 1 of dexamethasone, 3 of hydroxychloroquine, 2 of colchicine, 6 of tocilizumab, 1 of sarilumab, 1 of siltuximab, 2 of anakinra, 3 of baricitinib, 1 of ruxolitinib, 1 of mavrilimumab, and 1 of itolizumab were suitable for the review. Among antivirals, only remdesivir significantly reduced the time to recovery, and mortality. Data for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were largely inconclusive. In a large trial, dexamethasone 6 mg/day reduced mortality by one-third. Trials of tocilizumab and sarilumab did not definitively demonstrate efficacy. Anakinra significantly reduced the mortality in 2 trials. Three retrospective trials on a cumulative number of 145 patients, reported the efficacy of baricitinib, with significant reduction of intensive care unit admission, and deaths. These results were recently confirmed by the ACTT-2 trial. Due to paucity of studies and to the small size clinical series, the results of other immune therapies were not conclusive. CONCLUSIONS: Beyond the supportive therapy, up to now the best therapeutic approach for COVID-19 may be a three-step combination therapy, including remdesivir 100 mg/day (200 mg loading dose on first day) in the first stage of the disease, and combined dexamethasone 6 mg/day plus baricitinib 4 mg/day to target the immune dysregulation triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The promising results of anakinra should be confirmed by the ongoing RCTs.

Anti-Inflammatory Agents/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Biological Products/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/therapeutic use , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/therapeutic use , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Biological Products/administration & dosage , COVID-19/therapy , Cytokines/drug effects , Cytokines/metabolism , Dexamethasone/therapeutic use , Drug Therapy, Combination , Humans , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Intensive Care Units , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2