The Léon Bérard center in Lyon is launching a clinical study with 273 cancer patients affected by the coronavirus. - Philippe Merle / AFP

  • The Lyon Bérard anti-cancer center is launching a clinical study with 273 patients suffering from cancer and the coronavirus.
  • Two groups will be observed: patients with respiratory distress and those with less severe symptoms.
  • Each will test three different treatments to see which one works best.

The Léon Bérard anti-cancer center in Lyon announced Tuesday that it was launching the same day two research protocols including a clinical study including patients affected simultaneously by coronavirus and cancer.

“To date, no treatment has yet proven to be effective. But like those over 70, patients with solid cancer or blood cancer are more fragile and can develop Covid-19 disease with more complications, "explains the establishment.

#Press The @CLCCLeonBerard launches 2 research protocols, one of which today includes COVID + patients affected by cancer. # COVID19 #Research #Cancer

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- Julie Colomb (@julie_colombRP) April 7, 2020

Three different treatments

The study plans to include 273 patients from all over France. Patients with "advanced cancer," says oncologist Philippe Cassier, who coordinates this project. In the case of the coronavirus epidemic, it was not certain that these patients could be admitted to intensive care. This study does not exclude them from other studies. "

Two groups will be formed during the month. On the one hand, people affected by the virus, but who manage to breathe normally and do not need to be oxygenated. On the other, those who are in respiratory distress and therefore in a more critical state. Each group will test three different treatments to determine the most effective against Covid-19 or limit its effects.

A chloroquine analog with "10 to 50 times the effects"

The first “standard” or “classic” treatment will consist of administering antibiotics to patients. The second to treat them with GNS561, an analogue of chloroquine but whose effects "are 10 to 50 times greater than chloroquine," reveals Philippe Cassier. The objective will be to demonstrate that this drug works better on this type of patient. "

The third treatment will be immunotherapy for people without respiratory problems with the aim of "boosting their immune defenses". Or the administration of an antibody, anti-interleukin-6R, for the others. There, it will be a question of “slowing down the immune runaway”. "We started with a Chinese study, conducted on twenty patients, who showed that this protocol would help them breathe better by reducing respiratory inflammation," says the oncologist, specifying that the patients will be drawn .

"This is necessary and that is what is missing in the study currently being conducted by Didier Raoult," he believes. These studies should allow us to see what works best for patients, depending on their state of health and the severity of the symptoms. ” The first tests should take place in the coming days. The first lessons from these studies will be known within two months.

An observational study

Researchers and doctors at the Léon Bérard center will be conducting in parallel another study, this time "observational", of "large scale", which aims to collect data by monitoring the development of cancer patients during treatment and showing symptoms of Covid-19.

"It is hypothesized that these people with active malignant tumors are more at risk of developing serious complications from the coronavirus," says the center. As of Monday, six patients had already been included in this study.


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