Repurposing Immunomodulatory Therapies against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Era of Cardiac Vigilance: A Systematic Review
Campbell, Courtney M. et al.
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The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in efforts to identify therapies to ameliorate adverse clinical outcomes. The recognition of the key role for increased inflammation in COVID-19 has led to a proliferation of clinical trials targeting inflammation. The purpose of this review is to characterize the current state of immunotherapy trials in COVID-19, and focuses on associated cardiotoxicities, given the importance of pharmacovigilance. The search terms related to COVID-19 were queried in ClinicalTrials.gov. A total of 1621 trials were identified and screened for interventional trials directed at inflammation. Trials (n = 226) were fully assessed for the use of a repurposed drug, identifying a total of 141 therapeutic trials using a repurposed drug to target inflammation in COVID-19 infection. Building on the results of the Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial demonstrating the benefit of low dose dexamethasone in COVID-19, repurposed drugs targeting inflammation are promising. Repurposed drugs directed at inflammation in COVID-19 primarily have been drawn from cancer therapies and immunomodulatory therapies, specifically targeted anti-inflammatory, anti-complement, and anti-rejection agents. The proposed mechanisms for many cytokine-directed and anti-rejection drugs are focused on evidence of efficacy in cytokine release syndromes in humans or animal models. Anti-complement-based therapies have the potential to decrease both inflammation and microvascular thrombosis. Cancer therapies are hypothesized to decrease vascular permeability and inflammation. Few publications to date describe using these drugs in COVID-19. Early COVID-19 intervention trials have re-emphasized the subtle, but important cardiotoxic sequelae of potential therapies on outcomes. The volume of trials targeting the COVID-19 hyper-inflammatory phase continues to grow rapidly with the evaluation of repurposed drugs and late-stage investigational agents. Leveraging known clinical safety profiles and pharmacodynamics allows swift investigation in clinical trials for a novel indication. Physicians should remain vigilant for cardiotoxicity, often not fully appreciated in small trials or in short time frames.