A new study will look at the effectiveness of a drug used to treat inflammatory conditions as a treatment for patients with coronavirus in the community, especially care homes.
The trial of anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) drug adalimumab will enrol up to 750 patients from community care settings throughout the UK and will be conducted by Oxford Clinical Trials Research Unit (OCTRU).
Anti-TNF drugs have been in widespread use for more than 20 years for a range of inflammatory conditions.
Researchers say recent studies have shown patients with Covid-19 already taking anti-TNF drugs for inflammatory bowel disease and inflammatory arthritis are less likely to be admitted to hospital.
The same was not observed for patients taking other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Experts say availability of biosimilar versions of biological treatments has been an important step forward in driving down costs, making the anti-TNF treatment affordable and accessible if the trial is successful.
Duncan Richards, professor of clinical therapeutics, University of Oxford, said: “The observed potential of anti-TNF drugs has prompted us to conduct a study in patients in community care to see whether treatment with the anti-TNF drug adalimumab reduces the progression to severe or critical disease or death in Covid-19 patients.
“We think anti-TNF drugs could be an important treatment for Covid-19 and are very grateful for the support of the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, which will allow us to find out.”
The researchers hope to start recruiting patients for the trial in late October.
The AVID-CC trial will be delivered by Hospital at Home teams around the UK.
It is a relatively new service in which hospital-based teams reach out into the community to deliver more complex treatment interventions while avoiding the need for admission to hospital.
Adam Gordon, professor of care of older people at the University of Nottingham, and consultant geriatrician, said: “We have seen lots of examples, earlier in the Covid pandemic, of older people in care homes being disadvantaged regarding access to treatments simply because of where they live.
“This study is an exciting opportunity to open up promising treatments to this most vulnerable, and underserved, group of people.
“It is an important step forward as we investigate how to manage Covid, and more generally in terms of bringing research to the frailest older people.”
The study is funded by the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative set up by Wellcome, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard, with support from public and philanthropic donors.