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Clinical research

Heparin and zilucoplan added to COVID-19 ACCORD trials platform

Two more drugs, heparin and zilucoplan, will be included in a clinical trial platform launched to accelerate the development of potential COVID-19 treatments.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

Heparin

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The anticoagulant heparin has been added to the ACCORD clinical trial platform

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has confirmed that two more drugs will be included in a clinical trial scheme designed to speed up development of new medicines for patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

The two drugs — the anticoagulant heparin and a synthetic macrocyclic peptide inhibitor zilucoplan — will be included in the the Accelerating COVID-19 Research & Development (ACCORD) clinical trial platform. Heparin is routinely used to prevent the formation of blood clots and zilucoplan is already in trial for potential treatment of the skeletomuscular disorder myasthenia gravis.

NIHR previously confirmed three drugs out of a total of six drugs that would be used as part of the ACCORD platform when it was first announced in April 2020: bemcentinib, an AXL kinase inhibitor used to treat blood disorders; MEDI3506, an interleukin-33 monoclonal antibody developed for skin disorders and COPD; and acalabrutinib, a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed for severe lung inflammation.

The five drugs that are now confirmed will be trialled in 30 hospitals across the country. Each study is aiming to recruit approximately 60 patients in order assess whether any of the drugs has a beneficial effect that can be investigated in larger-scale trials. 

The NIHR confirmed that the drugs were chosen from a list of 200 potential candidates identified by the Therapeutics Taskforce, and if they are found to not be efficacious against COVID-19, another batch would then be considered for trials.

However, a spokesperson for the NIHR explained that as the number of patients being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 is now declining, the current focus was to ensure that the initial studies could complete their required recruitment. 

“Establishing the ACCORD platform is a key part of the UK’s approach to therapeutics development for COVID-19 and has been a huge collaborative effort from government, academia and industry,” said Matt Hallsworth, head of external relations at the NIHR.

“The Therapeutics Taskforce identifies potential early-stage drugs, which can be trialled through ACCORD based on their strong scientific rationale and feasibility to be used as potential treatments for COVID-19.”

ACCORD is a collaborative clinical trial platform that was launched to accelerate the development of new drugs for patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

It aims to rapidly test potential drugs through early stage clinical trials and feed them into the UK’s large-scale COVID-19 studies, such as the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial, in an effort to reduce the time taken to set up clinical studies for new therapies from months to weeks.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208023

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