The fast-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major challenges and posed unprecedented risks to global health. To this end, thousands of scientists around the globe have joined forces and are doing their utmost to find reliable interventions that can help in controlling the outbreak. This matter can be seen in the public clinical trial registries as the efficacy of over 350 different therapies is being researched.
Over a month ago, a ta-Scan report was generated on the development of potential therapeutic remedies for COVID-19. In today’s report, we provide an update on the developments and worldwide research activities for this novel virus.
Promising treatment approaches and related sponsors
Along with the rapid acceleration in the number of academically sponsored trials, Roche S.A., Novartis S.A., Sanofi S.A. and Pfizer Inc. are also dedicating a large amount of resources on this topic. Hydroxychloroquine is still among the top potential drugs being explored by a large number of academic trials as well as trials sponsored by Novartis and Sanofi. Tocilizumab, alteplase, IL22 Fc and MSTT1041A are drugs currently under investigation by Roche. In May, Pfizer has initiated three trials examining the effect of as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Despite the rising interest in the use of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and chloroquine, on May 25, the World Health Organisation has announced the temporary suspension of their treatment arm examining the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine. The reason for this suspension is the reported results of a multinational registry analysis published by The Lancet. This observational study on the safety and benefits of this drug on infected patients reported a higher risk of mortality and increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias during hospitalization.
Further analysis on public data has shown that researchers are shifting their focus to a novel vaccine, mRNA-1273, which is a lipid-based nanoparticle encapsulating a snippet of the COVID-19 genetic code. This phase 1 study (NCT04283461) is showing promising data on the effectiveness of the mRNA-1273 vaccine, which is prompting investigators to conduct large cohort studies.
Another potential vaccine against COVID-19 that has gained more popularity over the past few months is B.C.G. (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin). This vaccine shows beneficial “off-target effects” on the immune system and creates an increasing immunity against a wide range of other infections.  Eight clinical trials, five in phase 3 and three in phase 4, are investigating the impact of this vaccine on reducing absenteeism among health care workers.
Furthermore, major interest has risen in using convalescent plasma as an effective therapy. Ninety-three clinical trials are investigating the impact of transfusing convalescent plasma from recovered patients to infected adult patients. The US (25% of a total of 93 trials) and China (10%) are conducting the most trials focusing on this therapeutic procedure. These two countries still have the most sites with COVID-19 clinical research activity.
Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug developed by Gilead Sciences, Inc., is being investigated as a potential COVID-19 treatment in seventeen trials, twelve of which are phase 3 or 4. Not only Gilead is exploring the efficacy of this drug: Abbvie is also involved in some research activities on this drug.
Areas of research expansion
The total number of research sites participating in COVID-19 studies has quadrupled in a month’s time, with over 2,000 sites currently registered. Many of the research sites that opened over the past month are located in the US, which accounts for 31% of the total increase in sites. France (+10%) and Iran (+8%), have also seen a significant increase in COVID-19 research sites over the past 30 days.
Stay Safe and Informed
As the COVID-19 research landscape is evolving rapidly, weekly updates of the publicly available data will be available in ta-Scan to enable close tracking of the most recent developments. Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Anju Software continues to follow the guidance and best practices established by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees. Additionally, we recognize that our customers have an enormous responsibility to patients and staff to minimize risk, mitigate impact, maintain productivity, and promote business continuity within their clinical trial and investigator site operations. We remain committed to providing our customers with the tools and expertise necessary to ensure the continued success of your business objectives. But most importantly, we hope you and your relatives stay safe during these difficult times.