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Lower mortality, shorter ventilation, better outcomes after imatinib treatment at 90-day follow-up

The IMI project IMPENTRI’s trial of a cancer drug has shown promising results after 90 days, confirming its benefits in severe cases.

03 March 2022
ICU patient by pirke via Shutterstock
The study was part of the IMPENTRI project, one of eight IMI projects launched in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results of a long-term clinical outcome study have been published that demonstrate that lower mortality rate, better clinical status, and shorter duration of invasive ventilation were observed in hospitalised COVID-19 patients with treated with imatinib during a 90-day follow-up. The results were published in the in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

The study is part of the IMPENTRI project, one of eight IMI projects launched in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

90-day outcomes

Impentri is a stable intravenous formulation of imatinib, used for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukaemia and other rare cancers. Many people with severe COVID-19 infection experience a build-up of fluid in the lungs, making it hard to breathe and, in the worst cases, contributing to the death of the patient. There were signs that the generic drug imatinib could address the problem. According to the paper, "To date, antiviral or immune-modulatory treatment options have been thoroughly studied, yet there is no approved therapy targeting endothelial dysfunction. Imatinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that attenuates vascular leakage under inflammatory conditions."

"In the CounterCOVID study, patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 treated with imatinib had a shorter duration of invasive ventilation and shorter stay at the intensive care unit (ICU). Although a signal for reduced mortality was observed, a definite answer on mortality was precluded by correction for imbalances in patient characteristics at baseline and the short follow-up of 28 days. Here we report the 90-day outcomes of the CounterCOVID study and investigate the mechanisms underlying the clinical benefit of imatinib.

The study, performed at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, reviewed 90-day outcomes in a group of 385 patients. The phase 2 study also investigated the mechanisms underlying the clinical benefits of imatinib.

Five day reduction in time spend on invasive ventilation

This analysis substantiates the earlier suggestions of improved survival in COVID-19 patients treated with imatinib and also confirms a better clinical status according to an eight-point scale (ranging from discharged without oxygen supplementation (1) to death (8)). The reduced time spent on invasive ventilation was seven days on imatinib versus 12 days in a placebo group.

David Cavalla, CEO of Exvastat, the company created the first stable formulation of imatinib that can be delivered intravenously, commented: “This updated analysis confirms the benefit of imatinib in patients with COVID-19, particularly in its more severe manifestations. The results with respect to improved mortality when corrected for all comorbidities are particularly encouraging. We are continuing with the investigation of Impentri, a bespoke intravenous formulation of imatinib, in intensive care patients with moderate to severe ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome) as a result of COVID and non-COVID pneumonia as well planning for pivotal studies in this area.”

IMPENTRI is supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry.