CRUK Centre for Drug Development providing expertise for a trial investigating a potential COVID-19 treatment
The CRUK Centre for Drug Development (CDD) will sponsor and manage – at no extra cost to the charity - a nationally-prioritised clinical trial called SPIKE-1 to aid the efforts to find an effective treatment for COVID-19. The trial, which has been rapidly put together in partnership with Latus Therapeutics and the University of Edinburgh, will investigate whether a drug called Camostat, which has been shown in the lab to block SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein-initiated membrane fusion, can prevent respiratory deterioration and reduce the rate of hospital admissions. It is a randomised, open-label Phase III trial that will recruit up to 400 patients. SPIKE-1 will not be a typical CRUK trial as it will be in a community setting, with patients being identified at the COVID-19 testing hubs and virtually all patient assessments taking place within their homes. The CDD has expedited protocol development and trial set up activities, aiming to open the SPIKE-1 trial in June. The agility of the CDD has been reflected in how quickly this trial has been pulled together, and the team hope to apply these learnings to the set-up of cancer clinical trials in the future.
The charity LifeArc has peer reviewed and awarded a £1 million grant for this trial, which means there will be no cost to Cancer Research UK in the running of this trial. The CDD has secured access to the drug from Ono Pharmaceutical, who are providing it free of charge. Camostat is already licensed in Japan and South Korea to treat chronic pancreatitis, so if successful it could be quickly manufactured and used to treat people with COVID-19.
This is a great success story for the CDD as they have not only managed to continue treatment for all cancer patients on their phase I trials, but also excelled at this challenge and lent their expertise to others in need. And the sooner we can find ways to minimise the impact of COVID-19, the more quickly we can more fully return to our life saving cancer research.