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BioSpace – Aetion Statement on UCSF-Led Study to Inform Drug Development for COVID-19, Future Pandemics

BioSpace – Aetion Statement on UCSF-Led Study to Inform Drug Development for COVID-19, Future Pandemics


NEW YORK, Oct. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Aetion co-authored a study published today in Science, which examined lethal coronaviruses SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and MERS-CoV to identify molecular characteristics of potential treatments. The study, which was led by the Quantitative Biosciences Institute at UCSF and involved nearly 200 researchers from leading institutions, applied a novel approach to evaluate molecular hypotheses by analyzing real-world data from COVID-19 patients.

Aetion researchers ran analyses on Real-Time Insights and Evidence, an instance of the Aetion Evidence Platform® with real-time health care data designed to generate evidence on prospective treatments for COVID-19.

Jeremy Rassen, Sc.D., Aetion co-founder, president, and chief science officer and one of the study’s authors, made the following statement:

“These results demonstrate the value of using real-world data on COVID-19 to evaluate molecular hypotheses generated in the lab, and represent a new pathway for the use of real-world evidence to support the drug development process. While these findings are based on limited use of these medications in patients with COVID-19, we can further validate the findings with real-world or randomized evidence.

“The reach and severity of COVID-19 has created extreme urgency as researchers work to identify potential therapies and vaccines. Using near real-time healthcare data, we were able to efficiently and rigorously screen prospective interventions for COVID-19, accelerating time to insights from months to a matter of weeks. As COVID-19 treatment candidates emerge, real-world evidence — properly generated — has an important role in complementing clinical trials with real-world insights on usage, safety, and effectiveness across the drug lifecycle.”

The team of global researchers started with lab-driven hypotheses that suggested certain medications — those that block the coronavirus’s interaction with the enzyme PGES-2 or sigma receptor 1 — may inhibit viral replication in vivo. To evaluate whether these molecular actions reduced the severity of COVID-19 in clinical settings, Aetion identified nearly 740,000 U.S. COVID-19 patients who shortly after diagnosis began treatment with one of the potential therapies. Aetion researchers assessed whether COVID-19 severity was decreased in these patients as compared to those treated with medications without the hypothesized antiviral properties.

Aetion’s analyses showed:

  1. COVID-19-positive new users of indomethacin, a marketed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that inhibits the enzyme PGES-2, appeared substantially less likely to require hospitalization or inpatient services than matched new users of celecoxib, an NSAID that does not target PGES-2; and,
  2. Hospitalized COVID-19-positive new users of typical antipsychotics that have activity against the sigma receptor 1 protein (such as haloperidol, chlorpromazine) were over 50% less likely to require mechanical ventilation as compared to matched new users of atypical antipsychotics (such as quetiapine, olanzapine).

Aetion has been a leader in advancing the understanding of and response to COVID-19 since early in the pandemic. The company is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration through a research collaboration agreement and is an active participant in the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator, a collaboration organized by the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA and Friends of Cancer Research.…