“As part of our study, COVID-ICI, we are examining how immune checkpoint inhibitors, drugs that allow immune cells to respond more strongly, in combination with other treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation, affect the immune cells of COVID-19 patients and patients with both COVID-19 and cancer,” she says. “We think that using these drugs in cancer patients with the virus will lead to an increased inflammatory immune response in comparison to those not receiving these drugs, and that maybe using drugs like metformin, an anti-diabetic drug that has been studied for use in certain cancer populations, in combination might be a better option.”
She says the study may help determine treatment plans for patients with cancer and uncover new alternatives for COVID-19 patients.
“It will help us understand if this type of therapy prevents infection, or if on the other hand, therapy should be postponed in cancer patients already infected with COVID-19 to prevent complications, and at the same time, possibly uncover an alternative treatment for COVID-19 in both cancer and noncancer patients,” Wise-Draper adds.
“These studies are very important and could greatly help patients with cancer, patients with COVID-19 and patients with both,” she says. “We’re excited to be able to help shed light on something that is impacting all of us and could truly save lives.”
Featured photo of Trisha Wise-Draper. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand