Trial of Imatinib for Hospitalized Adults With COVID-19

  • End date
    Dec 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Maryland, Baltimore
Updated on 4 October 2022


This study is a randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial on the Safety and Efficacy of Imatinib for Hospitalized Adults with COVID-19


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an ongoing global pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and at present with no approved or proven antiviral treatment.

Imatinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that has been approved for treatment of many hematologic and solid neoplasm. Imatinib is a weak base that compared to the extracellular compartment is enriched over 1000-fold in the lysosome within several hours as a result of its lysosomotropic property. Imatinib as a weak base accumulates in lysosomes resulting in some antiviral activities by lysosomal alkalization required for virus/cell fusion.

Imatinib demonstrates in vitro activity against SARS-CoV viruses. Imatinib inhibit SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV with micromolar EC50s (range, 9.8 to 17.6 μM) with low toxicity. The mechanism of action studies suggested that ABL-1 tyrosine kinase regulates budding or release of poxviruses and Ebola virus, demonstrating that the c-ABL-1 kinase signaling pathways play an important role in the egress of these viruses. It is also reported that kinase signaling may also be important for replication of two members of the Coronaviridae family, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. In vivo studies performed in the mouse model of vaccinia virus infection showed that imatinib was effective in blocking dissemination of the virus.

Imatinib has anti-inflammatory activity including its effectiveness in a "two-hit" murine model of acute lung injury (ALI) caused by combined lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). Imatinib significantly decreased bronchoalveolar lavage protein, total cells, neutrophils, and TNFα levels in mice exposed to LPS plus VILI, indicating that it attenuates ALI in this clinically relevant model. In another experiment, imatinib attenuated ALI when given 4 hours after LPS, suggesting potential efficacy when given after the onset of injury. Overall, these results strongly suggest the therapeutic potential of imatinib against inflammatory vascular leak and a potential role of imatinib combination therapy for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) on mechanical ventilation.

The investigators hypothesize that addition of imatinib to the best conventional care (BCC) improves the outcome of hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19. This hypothesis is on the bases of 1) intralysosomal entrapment of imatinib will increase endosomal pH and effectively decrease SARS-CoV-2/cell fusion, 2) kinase inhibitory activity of imatinib will interfere with budding/release or replication of SARS-CoV-2, and 3) because of the critical role of mechanical ventilation in the care of patients with ARDS, imatinib will have a significant clinical impact for patients with severe COVID-19 infection in Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Condition COVID-19
Treatment Imatinib, Placebo Oral Tablet
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04394416
SponsorUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore
Last Modified on4 October 2022


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