The MHRA has approved an advanced clinical trial exploring whether diabetes sufferers with Covid-19 could benefit from taking the glucose kinase activator AZD1656.
The trial follows research suggesting that AZD1656 could help people with diabetes recover from coronavirus by dampening the overactive immune response seen in many patients who have high blood glucose levels.
The trial will involve hospitalised patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms, with the first patient to be dosed this week.
If successful, the compound could ultimately be prescribed by GPs for diabetes patients presenting with early coronavirus symptoms.
People with diabetes are known to have a much higher risk of dying with Covid-19, accounting for a third of all coronavirus hospital deaths.
People with type 1 diabetes have three and a half times the risk, while people with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of dying in hospital with the virus compared to people without diabetes.
The trial is the product of a collaboration between medical supplies company Excalibur Healthcare Services and St George Street, a UK-based biomedical research charity.
Professor Chris Evans of Excalibur Healthcare Services said: “All of us supporting this trial recognise this drug has the potential to make a huge difference to people with diabetes who are unfortunate enough to contract coronavirus and we foresee a significant impact on the level of fatalities in the future. Treatments such as this could be vital as we are likely to be living with this horrific virus for some time to come.”
St George Street CEO David Tapolczay said: “Given the current crisis, we have paused all our current research programmes to focus totally on this clinical trial and evaluate this potentially life-saving new drug. Our charity was set up to accelerate the delivery of treatments to patients and this ethos is needed now more than ever before. We want to do everything in our power to ensure patients recover from this terrible virus.”