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AstraZeneca’s Calquence showed promising clinical improvement

Jose Baselga

Results has showed that Calquence (acalabrutinib), a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, reduced markers of inflammation and improved clinical outcomes of patients with severe COVID-19 disease.

The peer-reviewed case series of 19 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 disease and severe hypoxia and/or inflammation is a collaboration from investigators across the US, including AstraZeneca scientists, and led by Wyndham Wilson, M.D., Ph.D. and Louis Staudt, M.D., Ph.D. at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the US.

The publication Science Immunology describes the effects of Calquence administration in patients with severe respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.1 A virus-induced hyperimmune response or “cytokine storm” is hypothesised to be a major pathogenic mechanism of respiratory illness in these patients, and evidence suggests that dysregulated BTK-dependent lung macrophage signalling mediates this cytokine storm and plays a role in COVID-19 pneumonia.

Encouraging preliminary data

“The science supporting investigation of the use of Calquence in patients with severe COVID-19 is strong. The encouraging preliminary data in this case series has informed the initiation of global phase II trials, notably the CALAVI programme. We look forward to completing recruitment and obtaining data in these trials as soon as possible to further our understanding of what this potential treatment could mean for patients,” says José Baselga, Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca.

Calquence is a next-generation, selective BTK inhibitor currently approved in the US for the treatment of certain haematological malignancies.8-10 Calquence is not currently approved in any country to treat patients with illnesses related to SARS-CoV-2.

Photo of José Baselga