Ruxolitinib in treatment of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): A multicenter, single-blind, randomized controlled trial
Cao, Yang et al.
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Background: Accumulating evidence proposed Janus-associated kinase (JAK) inhibitors as therapeutic targets warranting rapid investigation. Objective: This study evaluated the efficacy and safety of ruxolitinib, a JAK1/2 inhibitor, for coronavirus disease 2019. Methods: We conducted a prospective, multicenter, single-blind, randomized controlled phase II trial involving patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019. Results: Forty-three patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive ruxolitinib plus standard-of-care treatment (22 patients) or placebo based on standard-of-care treatment (21 patients). After exclusion of 2 patients (1 ineligible, 1 consent withdrawn) from the ruxolitinib group, 20 patients in the intervention group and 21 patients in the control group were included in the study. Treatment with ruxolitinib plus standard-of-care was not associated with significantly accelerated clinical improvement in severe patients with coronavirus disease 2019, although ruxolitinib recipients had a numerically faster clinical improvement. Eighteen (90%) patients from the ruxolitinib group showed computed tomography improvement at day 14 compared with 13 (61.9%) patients from the control group (P = .0495). Three patients in the control group died of respiratory failure, with 14.3% overall mortality at day 28; no patients died in the ruxolitinib group. Ruxolitinib was well tolerated with low toxicities and no new safety signals. Levels of 7 cytokines were significantly decreased in the ruxolitinib group in comparison to the control group. Conclusions: Although no statistical difference was observed, ruxolitinib recipients had a numerically faster clinical improvement. Significant chest computed tomography improvement, a faster recovery from lymphopenia, and favorable side-effect profile in the ruxolitinib group were encouraging and informative to future trials to test efficacy of ruxolitinib in a larger population.