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Imatinib a Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor: a potential treatment for SARS- COV-2 induced pneumonia

Samir Assaad-Khalil


Introduction: As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads worldwide, awaiting the development of a vaccine, researchers are looking among the arsenal of available drugs, for a potential cure or medication to improve patients’ outcome. A highly elevated levels of cytokines in COVID-19 patients requiring ICU admission, has suggested that a “cytokine storm” was associated with disease severity.

Methods: We summarize published key findings about imatinib, aiming to rationalize its use as a potential pharmacologic treatment for COVID-19.

Results: Data from cellular, animal models and clinical trials, showed a beneficial role of tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the regulation of inflammation, the maintenance of endothelial barrier integrity, as well as the expression of antiviral properties. This data is especially derived from imatinib, the most studied Abl family kinase inhibitor, that is currently in clinical use for multiple medical conditions.

Discussion: Based on this encouraging data, we hypothesize that imatinib might be beneficial for the treatment of patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia, in the aim of preventing disease progression into the severe phenotype of hypoxic respiratory failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome. This concept can be considered for evaluation in a randomized controlled study.