Swedish researchers have announced a new clinical trial to assess a prostate cancer drug, called Enzalutamide, for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
This nationwide trial is an alliance between Umeå University, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Norrlands University Hospital in Umeå, and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.
Researchers expect the drug to shorten the course of the disease and the requirement for intensive care.
Enzalutamide acts by inhibiting signals of testosterone, a male sex hormone, in turn affecting the TMPRSS2 enzyme, among others. TMPRSS2 is also required by SARS-CoV-2 to enter into cells and harm lungs.
Umeå University Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine group leader Andreas Josefsson said: “Our objective is that this drug will reduce the amount of coronavirus that can reach lung cells by preventing the underlying process behind an enzyme.”
The trial, called Covidenza, will involve hospitalised individuals suffering from Covid-19, but not critically ill patients requiring intensive care. Participants will receive oral form of the drug over five days.
Commonly, the drug is given as a long-term treatment and this short treatment duration is expected to reduce the risks of potential side effects.
Participants will be continuously followed for six weeks and then after six months.
Apart from the collaborators, six Swedish medical regions intend to participate in the trial, while the hospitals in Malmö, Sundsvall and Jönköping are making preparations to begin the study.
Up to 600 patients are expected to be enrolled in the trial.
University of Gothenburg Sahlgrenska Academy researcher Karin Welén said: “We also have close collaborations internationally with not least the US where similar trials are commencing, and we are sharing experiences with each other.
“The spirit is high in collaborations both within research fields globally, as well as cross-disciplinarily to find drugs against Covid-19.”
The trial has secured Swedish Medical Products Agency approval.