Local doctors and patients part of a promising drug study on a new COVID-19 treatment

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Clinical trials could soon begin on a cancer drug that has shown it can lessen the severe symptoms of COVID-19. Local doctors and patients took part in a study that had positive results.

The drug is used to reduce inflammation in the lungs caused by Leukemia. Acalabrutinib is a member of a class of drugs known as Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors, which are used to treat B-cell leukemias and lymphomas.

Doctors at New York Oncology Hematology partnered with St. Peter’s hospital to start testing the drug on extremely ill Coronavirus patients. Nineteen people who had been hospitalized took part in the study which included three people at St. Peter’s Hospital.

Most had substantial improvement in their symptoms within three days. Nine out of 11 patients who had been receiving supplemental oxygen were discharged from the hospital and no longer required the oxygen.   The three St. Peter’s patients all were released from the hospital.

Doctor Stephen Wrzesinski, PhD, director of immunooncology and cellular therapy at NYOH said the drug had the potential to help ease respiratory symptoms. “In addition, there were pre-clinical animal models looking at lung inflammation following a viral infection in those animals being reduced by this drug, so there was a fair amount of re-clinical data that this could possibly work.”

Phase two of clinical trials are expected to begin this summer.


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