Low-Dose Radiotherapy For Patients With SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) Pneumonia

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
Updated on 21 March 2021
shortness of breath


Low doses of radiation in the form of chest x-rays has been in the past to treat people with pneumonia. This treatment was thought to reduce inflammation and was found to be effective without side effects. However, it was an expensive treatment and was eventually replaced with less expensive treatment options like penicillin.

The COVID-19 virus has emerged recently, causing high rates of pneumonia in people. The authors believe that giving a small dose of radiation to the lungs may reduce inflammation and neutralize the pneumonia caused by COVID-19. For this study, the x-ray given is called radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-ray beams from a large machine to target the lungs and reduce inflammation. Usually, it is given at much higher doses to treat cancers.

The purpose of this study is to find out if adding a single treatment of low-dose x-rays to the lungs might reduce the amount of inflammation in the lungs from COVID-19 infection, which could reduce the need for a ventilator or breathing tube.


The authors propose a two-step randomized Phase II study to determine if single fraction low dose whole thorax megavoltage radiotherapy (LD-WTRT) can produce meaningful clinical benefit in COVID-19 patients. In Step 1, patients would be randomized 1:2 to standard of care without or with LD-WTRT. Patients randomized to LD-WTRT would be further randomized to either 35 cGy or 100 cGy. After 20 patients have been enrolled on each low-dose radiotherapy arm, they will be evaluated to determine the selection of the "best radiotherapy dose-arm" for the remainder of the patients. This will be done by analyzing clinical benefit, risk profile, and the dynamics of biomarker change, specifically focusing on IL-6

  1. If the rate of Grade 4 toxicity is lower by an absolute rate of 15% when comparing the 35 cGy and 100 cGy arms, the arm with the lower toxicity rate will be used for Step 2 of the trial.
  2. If the crude clinically meaningful event rate (CMER) which is a composite endpoint, is lower by an absolute rate of 20% when comparing the 35 cGy and 100 cGy arms, the lower CMER rate arm will be used for Step 2. CMER is defined as a composite of :
  3. Rate of mechanical ventilation (MV)
  4. Rate of prolonged hospital stay >10 days (PHS)
  5. Crude all-cause mortality rate at the time of analysis
  6. If the crude CMER is < 20% difference between the 35 cGy and 100 cGy arms, the investigators will determine whether there is a trend suggesting less Facility Resource Utilization Rate (FRUR). If the FRUR is 20% lower in either the 35 cGy or 100 cGy arms, that dose will be used for Step 2. The FRUR is based upon:
  7. Days of mechanical ventilation
  8. Days of hospitalization.
  9. If both crude CMER and FRU rates do not differ by at least 20%, the investigators will evaluate the area under the curve (AUC) for IL-6 levels drawn within 24 hours before LD-WTRT and at 48 hours (2d) and 168 hours (7d) after radiation. If one of the two arms has a 20% lower serum IL-6 AUC one week after radiotherapy, the investigators will select that arm for Step 2.
  10. If none of the parameters in numbers 1-4 above differ in the criteria listed, the investigators will use the lower dose of 35 cGy for Step 2.

Condition Pulmonary Disease, Upper respiratory infection, Pneumonia, Throat and Tonsil Infections, Pneumonia (Pediatric), Lung Disease, *COVID-19, Covid-19, Sars-CoV2, Sars-CoV2, pneumoniae, pneumonitis, lung inflammation, SARS COV2
Treatment Low dose radiation 35 cGy, High dose radiation 100 cGy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04466683
SponsorOhio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
Last Modified on21 March 2021


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