STudy of Alteplase for Respiratory failure in SARS-Cov2/COVID-19: Study Design of the Phase IIa STARS Trial

Res Pract Thromb Haemost. 2020 May 21;4(6):984-996. doi: 10.1002/rth2.12395. Online ahead of print.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a large surge of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Prior phase I trials (non COVID-19) demonstrated improvement in pulmonary function in ARDS patients using fibrinolytic therapy. A follow-up trial using the widely available tissue-plasminogen activator (alteplase) is now needed to assess optimal dosing and safety in this critically ill patient population.

Objective: To describe the design and rationale of a Phase IIa trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of alteplase treatment for moderate/severe COVID-19-induced ARDS.

Patients/methods: A rapidly adaptive, pragmatic, open label, randomized, controlled, phase IIa clinical trial will be conducted with three groups: intravenous(IV) alteplase 50mg, IV alteplase 100mg, and control (standard-of-care). Inclusion criteria are known/suspected COVID-19 infection with PaO2/FiO2 ratio<150mmHg for >4 hours despite maximal mechanical ventilation management. Alteplase will be delivered through an initial bolus of 50mg or 100mg followed by heparin infusion for systemic anticoagulation, with alteplase re-dosing if there is a >20% PaO2/FiO2 improvement not sustained by 24 hours.

Results: The primary outcome is improvement in PaO2/FiO2 at 48 hours post-randomization. Other outcomes include: ventilator- and ICU-free-days, successful extubation (no reintubation ≤3 days after initial extubation), and mortality. Fifity eligible patients will be enrolled in a rapidly adaptive, modified stepped-wedge design with four looks at the data.

Conclusion: Findings will provide timely information on the safety, efficacy and optimal dosing of tPA to treat moderate/severe COVID-19-induced ARDS, which can be rapidly adapted to a phase III trial. (NCT04357730; FDA IND 149634).

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