Background: Cryptococcal meningitis has high mortality. Flucytosine is a key treatment but is expensive and rarely available. The anti-cancer agent tamoxifen has synergistic anti-cryptococcal activity with amphotericin in vitro. It is off-patent, cheap, and widely available. We performed a trial to determine its therapeutic potential.
Methods:Open label randomized controlled trial. Participants received standard care - amphotericin combined with fluconazole for the first two weeks - or standard care plus tamoxifen 300mg/day. The primary end point was Early Fungicidal Activity (EFA) - the rate of yeast clearance from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Trial registration https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03112031 .
Results: 50 patients were enrolled, (median age 34 years, 35 male). Tamoxifen had no effect on EFA (- 0.48log10 colony-forming units/mL/CSF control arm versus -0.49 tamoxifen arm, difference - 0.005log10CFU/ml/day, 95%CI: -0.16, 0.15, P=0.95). Tamoxifen caused QTc prolongation.
Conclusion: High dose tamoxifen does not increase the clearance rate of Cryptococcus from CSF. Novel, affordable therapies are needed.
Funding:The trial was funded through the Wellcome Trust Asia Programme Vietnam Core Grant 106680 and a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship to JND grant number WT097147MA.
The clinical trial has been conducted in Vietnam under the Ministry of Health and local Ethical Committee approvals. Requests to share the clinical data underlying the trial have to be acknowledged by the local Ethical Committee (and therefore we cannot hand over the data repository or management to an external party). The original de-identified clinical data underlying the study are available by emailing the OUCRU Data Access Committee at DAC@oucru.org or firstname.lastname@example.org (Head of the Clinical Trials Unit and Data Access Committee Chair). The review procedures (the data sharing policy and the data request form) are available on the OUCRU website at http://www.oucru.org/data-sharing/The code for the study analysis is freely available at https://doi.org/10.5287/bodleian:XmeOzdR8z
- Guy E Thwaites
- Jeremy N Day
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The study protocol was approved by the Ethical Review Committees of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Cho Ray Hospital, and the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, and by the Oxford University Tropical Research Ethics Committee. A trial steering committee with 2 independent members oversaw the running of the trial, and an independent data and safety monitoring committee oversaw trial safety. The first safety analysis was performed after the first 20 patients had reached the primary endpoint. The funding bodies and drug manufacturers played no role in the study design, implementation, analysis, or manuscript preparation. All the authors made the decision to submit the manuscript for publication and vouch for the accuracy and completeness of the data and analyses presented. The trial was registered at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03112031.
- Frank L van de Veerdonk, Radboudumc Center for Infectious Diseases, Netherlands
- Received: March 30, 2021
- Accepted: September 21, 2021
- Accepted Manuscript published: September 28, 2021 (version 1)
© 2021, Ngan et al.
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