• Efficacy and safety of CD24Fc in hospitalised patients with COVID-19: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 study.

      Welker, James; Pulido, Juan D; Catanzaro, Andrew T; Malvestutto, Carlos D; Li, Zihai; Cohen, Jonathan B; Whitman, Eric D; Byrne, Dana; Giddings, Olivia K; Lake, Jordan E; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-03-11)
      Background: Non-antiviral therapeutic options are required for the treatment of hospitalised patients with COVID-19. CD24Fc is an immunomodulator with potential to reduce the exaggerated inflammatory response to tissue injuries. We aimed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of CD24Fc in hospitalised adults with COVID-19 receiving oxygen support. Methods: We conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 study at nine medical centres in the USA. Hospitalised patients (age ≥18 years) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection who were receiving oxygen support and standard of care were randomly assigned (1:1) by site-stratified block randomisation to receive a single intravenous infusion of CD24Fc 480 mg or placebo. The study funder, investigators, and patients were masked to treatment group assignment. The primary endpoint was time to clinical improvement over 28 days, defined as time that elapsed between a baseline National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ordinal scale score of 2-4 and reaching a score of 5 or higher or hospital discharge. The prespecified primary interim analysis was done when 146 participants reached the time to clinical improvement endpoint. Efficacy was assessed in the intention-to-treat population. Safety was assessed in the as-treated population. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04317040. Findings: Between April 24 and Sept 22, 2020, 243 hospitalised patients were assessed for eligibility and 234 were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive CD24Fc (n=116) or placebo (n=118). The prespecified interim analysis was done when 146 participants reached the time to clinical improvement endpoint among 197 randomised participants. In the interim analysis, the 28-day clinical improvement rate was 82% (81 of 99) for CD24Fc versus 66% (65 of 98) for placebo; median time to clinical improvement was 6·0 days (95% CI 5·0-8·0) in the CD24Fc group versus 10·0 days (7·0-15·0) in the placebo group (hazard ratio [HR] 1·61, 95% CI 1·16-2·23; log-rank p=0·0028, which crossed the prespecified efficacy boundary [α=0·0147]). 37 participants were randomly assigned after the interim analysis data cutoff date; among the 234 randomised participants, median time to clinical improvement was 6·0 days (95% CI 5·0-9·0) in the CD24Fc group versus 10·5 days (7·0-15·0) in the placebo group (HR 1·40, 95% CI 1·02-1·92; log-rank p=0·037). The proportion of participants with disease progression within 28 days was 19% (22 of 116) in the CD24Fc group versus 31% (36 of 118) in the placebo group (HR 0·56, 95% CI 0·33-0·95; unadjusted p=0·031). The incidences of adverse events and serious adverse events were similar in both groups. No treatment-related adverse events were observed. Interpretation: CD24Fc is generally well tolerated and accelerates clinical improvement of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 who are receiving oxygen support. These data suggest that targeting inflammation in response to tissue injuries might provide a therapeutic option for patients hospitalised with COVID-19.
    • A systems-level analysis highlights microglial activation as a modifying factor in common epilepsies.

      Altmann, Andre; Ryten, Mina; Di Nunzio, Martina; Ravizza, Teresa; Tolomeo, Daniele; Reynolds, Regina H; Somani, Alyma; Bacigaluppi, Marco; Iori, Valentina; Micotti, Edoardo; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021-09-05)
      Aims: The causes of distinct patterns of reduced cortical thickness in the common human epilepsies, detectable on neuroimaging and with important clinical consequences, are unknown. We investigated the underlying mechanisms of cortical thinning using a systems-level analysis. Methods: Imaging-based cortical structural maps from a large-scale epilepsy neuroimaging study were overlaid with highly spatially resolved human brain gene expression data from the Allen Human Brain Atlas. Cell-type deconvolution, differential expression analysis and cell-type enrichment analyses were used to identify differences in cell-type distribution. These differences were followed up in post-mortem brain tissue from humans with epilepsy using Iba1 immunolabelling. Furthermore, to investigate a causal effect in cortical thinning, cell-type-specific depletion was used in a murine model of acquired epilepsy. Results: We identified elevated fractions of microglia and endothelial cells in regions of reduced cortical thickness. Differentially expressed genes showed enrichment for microglial markers and, in particular, activated microglial states. Analysis of post-mortem brain tissue from humans with epilepsy confirmed excess activated microglia. In the murine model, transient depletion of activated microglia during the early phase of the disease development prevented cortical thinning and neuronal cell loss in the temporal cortex. Although the development of chronic seizures was unaffected, the epileptic mice with early depletion of activated microglia did not develop deficits in a non-spatial memory test seen in epileptic mice not depleted of microglia. Conclusions: These convergent data strongly implicate activated microglia in cortical thinning, representing a new dimension for concern and disease modification in the epilepsies, potentially distinct from seizure control.