Breakthrough: Chloroquine phosphate shows efficacy in COVID-19 associated pneumonia
According to a letter published in BioScience Trends, Chloroquine has shown apparent efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus is spreading rapidly, and scientists are endeavouring to discover drugs for its efficacious treatment in China. Rapidly sharing scientific information is an effective way to reduce public panic about COVID-19, and doing so is the key to providing real-time guidance to epidemiologists working to contain the outbreak, clinicians managing patients, and modellers helping to understand future developments and the possible efficacy of various interventions.
Chloroquine phosphate, an old drug for the treatment of malaria, is shown to have apparent efficacy and acceptable safety against COVID-19 associated pneumonia in multicenter clinical trials conducted in China.
In the early in vitro studies, chloroquine was found to block COVID-19 infection at low-micromolar concentration, with a half-maximal effective concentration of 1.13 μM and a half-cytotoxic concentration (CC50) greater than 100 μM. A number of subsequent clinical trials have been quickly conducted in China to test the efficacy and safety of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in more than 10 hospitals in Wuhan, Jingzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Ningbo.
Thus far, results from more than 100 patients have demonstrated that chloroquine phosphate is superior to the control treatment in inhibiting the exacerbation of pneumonia, improving lung imaging findings, promoting a virus-negative conversion, and shortening the disease course according to the news briefing. Severe adverse reactions to chloroquine phosphate were not noted in the aforementioned patients. Given these findings, a conference was held on February 15, 2020; participants including experts from government and regulatory authorities and organizers of clinical trials reached an agreement that chloroquine phosphate has potent activity against COVID-19. The drug is recommended for inclusion in the next version of the Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Pneumonia Caused by COVID-19 issued by the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China.
Chloroquine is a cheap and safe drug that has been used for more than 70 years. It is used to prevent and treat malaria and is efficacious as an anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus. Studies revealed that it also has potential broad-spectrum antiviral activities by increasing endosomal pH required for virus/cell fusion, as well as interfering with the glycosylation of cellular receptors of SARS-CoV. The anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activities of chloroquine may account for its potent efficacy in treating patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
In light of the urgent clinical demand, chloroquine phosphate is recommended to treat COVID-19 associated pneumonia in larger populations in the future.
The drug is recommended to be included in the next version of the Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Pneumonia Caused by COVID-19 issued by the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China for treatment of COVID-19 infection in larger populations in the future.
In addition to this, a new cellular drug called CAStem supposed to cure COVID-19 was created, and it has already made major progress in the experiment about the treatment of the severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) previously. The research team has applied for an emergency approval from the China National Medical Products Administration, and it is cooperating with relevant medical institutions.
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