American scientists have found a new drug that can save patients from severe coronavirus infection. A compound called acalabrutinib has previously been used against malignant blood diseases. This was reported in an article published in the journal Science Immunology.
Trials involving 19 critically ill patients (eight of them placed on artificial lung ventilation) demonstrated that acalabrutinib blocks Bruton’s tyrosine kinase protein (BTK), reducing the risk of respiratory distress and lowering an overactive immune response. However, this effect should be tested in randomized controlled clinical trials, also necessary to determine the safe dose.
VTK is necessary for the normal functioning of the immune system and the work of macrophages that secrete pro-inflammatory cytokine signaling molecules. Cytokines act as mediators to help regulate the body’s defenses when an infection gets in. However, in severe form of COVID-19, excessive release of cytokines can occur, which contributes to impaired lung function. This hyper-inflammatory condition is called a cytokine storm, and there are currently no proven treatment strategies for this stage of the disease.