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17-06-2020 | Rheumatology | News | Article

News in brief

Support for further investigation of canakinumab for COVID-19

Author: Claire Barnard

medwireNews: Preliminary data suggest that the interleukin (IL)-1β inhibitor canakinumab may warrant further investigation as a treatment option for patients with COVID-19 who experience a hyper-inflammatory response.

The retrospective analysis included 10 individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, hyperinflammation (C-reactive protein [CRP] ≥50 mg/L), and respiratory failure necessitating supplemental oxygen without invasive ventilation. These patients were treated with a single dose of subcutaneous canakinumab 300 mg, together with twice-daily hydroxychloroquine 200 mg, lopinavir 400 mg, and ritonavir 100 mg.

Katia Falasca (G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti–Pescara, Italy) and colleagues said that canakinumab was associated with “rapid and significant” reductions in CRP levels and improvements in oxygenation, and was well tolerated with no recorded adverse events. All 10 patients were discharged from hospital within 45 days of admission.

In an indirect comparison, the researchers found that this cohort of canakinumab-treated patients experienced quicker improvements in CRP levels and oxygenation than a similar cohort of 10 patients from the same hospital who were treated with hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and ritonavir but not canakinumab.

“Notwithstanding the many limitations of these initial data, such as the small sample size and the absence of a random comparison, these data represent the first available description of the use of canakinumab to treat COVID-19,” and “add further evidence to support the central role of IL-1β in [its] pathophysiology,” write Falasca and team in a correspondence to The Lancet Rheumatology.

Canakinumab is currently approved for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature Group

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Lancet Rheumatol 2020; doi:10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30167-3