Joaquín Martínez, Head of the CRIS Unit for Haematological Tumours participates in two leading trials against coronavirus.
CRIS Cancer Foundation knows how vital research is to make advances to cure diseases and so is supporting two clinical trials in the fight against coronavirus. We do so by making available the use of the CRIS Haematology Tumour Unit at 12 October University Hospital, Madrid. CRIS will also be collaborating with the Clinical Hospital by giving them the temporary loan of the area where a new CRIS Unit for Experimental Therapies is being built. During this time of crisis, this area will be used for the treatment of patients with coronavirus to meet the urgent need for space as hospitals reach their full capacity.
The Haematology area of Hospital 12 de Octubre, led by Dr. Joaquín Martínez López, who is also Head of the CRIS Unit for Hematological Tumours , will participate in a major clinical trial in which the efficacy of Aplidin in patients with coronavirus will be tested. This treatment will be used in coronavirus patients from both the haematology and oncology areas. Aplidin (plitidepsin) is a compound that was first isolated from Aplidium albicans, a marine animal that lives stuck to rocks, and was initially developed as a drug against some types of cancer, especially haematological (cancer of blood cells) as it has demonstrated the ability to kill certain tumour cells.
The CRIS Unit will participate in a major clinical trial testing the efficacy of Aplidin. This treatment will be used in coronavirus patients from both the haematology and oncology areas.
It is often the case that a compound that is developed and used for a specific medical purpose may also have other functions that were not initially identified or expected. This is the case with Aplidin, which could play an important role in the treatment of the SARS-CoV-19 coronavirus, the virus that has caused the COVID-19 epidemic. Scientists from the National Centre for Biotechnology (CSIC) have demonstrated in laboratory models that Aplidin effectively stops viruses very similar to SARS-CoV-19.
Dr. Joaquín Martínez also participates in another clinical trial launched by Adaptive Technologies and Microsoft. The immune system has several lines of defence. When a threat (disease) first attacks the body, the cells that patrol the body try to contain the invasion. These troops are often called the innate immune system. If they are unable to contain the onslaught of infections, they often recruit more specialised troops, who develop a more potent immune response, the so-called adaptive immune response. This adaptive response is the one that makes our body remember previous infections and develop immunity against them.
CRIS personnel will also participate in a clinical trial launched by Adaptive Technologies and Microsoft that tries to understand how the immune system reacts to the coronavirus in patients infected by or recovered from coronavirus.
Understanding how the immune system reacts to the coronavirus in patients infected by or recovered from coronavirus can be vital in developing effective and targeted therapies against key points of infection. To this end, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft have launched a major clinical study, in which blood samples from patients infected by or recovered from COVID-19 will be analysed, and certain key points of the immune response will be studied in depth (specifically the receptors with which the lymphocytes, elite cells of the adaptive immune system, recognise the virus). The information, shared with the scientific community in real time, will provide essential data to improve and refine the diagnosis, predict the highest risk patients and more.
51 hospitals will participate in this trial, including the 12 de Octubre University Hospital, through Joaquín Martínez, Head of Haematology and Director of the CRIS Unit of Haematological Tumours. The data will be constantly updated to facilitate access to study information and advance against the virus as quickly as possible.
This emergency health situation requires the urgent development of new therapeutic strategies to contain the pandemic. These trials will have the support and technical help of CRIS Cancer Foundation. The current situation caused by coronavirus is challenging, but researchers are making an enormous effort through collaboration and innovation, with the aim of successfully curbing and combating this epidemic.
It is research that will provide the answers to fighting disease.