Decitabine for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pneumonia- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) Treatment: DART Trial


This is a a randomized double blind placebo controlled Phase 2 trial with a 12 patient lead-in to evaluate safety, prior to full enrollment to an additional 28 patients (for a total of 40 patients) to assess efficacy of decitabine in the treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-ARDS. The patients will be randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive standard of care plus Decitabine or standard of care plus saline based placebo. The primary objective is to determine safety and efficacy of decitabine for COVID-19 ARDS based on clinical improvement on a 6-point clinical scale.

Full Title of Study: “Decitabine for COVID-19 Pneumonia-ARDS Treatment: DART Trial”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Double (Participant, Investigator)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: September 2021

Detailed Description

This is a randomized double blind placebo controlled Phase 2 trial with a 12 patient lead-in to evaluate safety, prior to full enrollment to an additional 28 patients (for a total of 40 patients) to assess efficacy of decitabine in the treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-ARDS. The patients will be randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive standard of care plus Decitabine or standard of care plus saline based placebo. Eligible patients will receive decitabine 10 mg/m2 daily for 5 days, 1 cycle only. This is a dose that is half the FDA approved dose for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and using a single cycle. If less than 2 of the first 6 (treatment arm) patients experience an unacceptable toxicity, defined as any treatment related grade III or higher adverse events, as per section 5.7, within 15 days of initiation of treatment, the drug is safe to continue. If the investigators observe more than 33% patients with unacceptable toxicity, the investigators will pause the accrual pending safety evaluation. After validating safety, the investigators will enroll additional 28 patients towards the primary efficacy endpoint. The investigators will monitor safety throughout the trial by monitoring clinical hematologic, chemistry, vital signs, respiratory parameters, medications, and clinical changes daily as per the schedule of procedures. Bio samples from peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) and Mini Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) will be collected and stored for secondary analysis and mini BAL will only be collected as an optional sub-study for patient consented to a separate study protocol either at time-point of for-cause clinically indicated bronchoscopy, or for subjects consented to a separate Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) interventional study, under the auspices of that protocol. For research bio specimens required after study drug initiation, a window period of +/-24 hours while inpatient, and +/- 4 days for outpatient monitoring will be permitted. These objectives will allow for the planning of subsequent phase 3 studies, and strengthen implementation of a multi-center randomized trial should this study confirm safety, and suggest efficacy of therapy.


  • Drug: Decitabine
    • Study duration is 6 weeks after the last dose of study drug. Number of study visits is dependent on Length of hospitalization of study participant. Study visits are scheduled on days 0-7, 11, 15, 29, and may occur via telemedicine or inpatient assessment or outpatient assessment in COVID recovered participants. Decitabine will be administered via Intravenous Administration 10/mg/m^2/day Dosage: 10mg/m^2/day IV day x 5 days (1 cycle only)
  • Other: Placebo Saline
    • Saline based placebo will be administered via Intravenous injection. Dosage Regimen: 10mg/m^2/day IV day x 5 days (1 cycle only)

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Decitabine + Standard of Care (SOC)
    • Study drug Decitabine will be administered via Intravenous injection. Dosage Regimen: 10mg/m^2/day IV day x 5 days (1 cycle only)
  • Placebo Comparator: Standard of Care (SOC) + Placebo
    • Saline based placebo will be administered via Intravenous injection. Dosage Regimen: 10mg/m^2/day IV day x 5 days (1 cycle only)

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Change in clinical state as assessed by a 6-point ordinal scale
    • Time Frame: Baseline and daily up to day 10
    • Clinical improvement within 10 days since start of treatment, defined as a decrease of at least 1 point within 10 days from baseline on a six-point ordinal scale: Not hospitalized/discharged; Hospitalized, not requiring supplemental oxygen; Hospitalized, requiring supplemental oxygen; Hospitalized, requiring nasal high-flow oxygen therapy, noninvasive mechanical ventilation, or both; Hospitalized, requiring invasive mechanical ventilation, extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), or both; and Death.

Secondary Measures

  • Safety as assessed by adverse events
    • Time Frame: Up to 6 weeks
    • Safety assessments using adverse events will be monitored daily while inpatient and weekly through end of study at week 6 once discharged from hospital. They will be monitored and graded using Common Terminology Criteria Adverse Events version 5.0.
  • Change in oxygenation index
    • Time Frame: Daily, up to 6 weeks
    • Oxygenation index is used to assess severity of hypoxic respiratory failure. (OI = mean airway pressure (MAP) × Fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) × 100÷ partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2). This will be measured daily while subject is on mechanical ventilation up to 6 weeks.
  • Change in fraction of inspired oxygen
    • Time Frame: Up to day 29
    • Fraction of inspired oxygen in the oxygen delivery system during hospital stay. Measured at 8 am daily during hospital stay and then weekly until day 29.
  • Time (days) to clinical improvement
    • Time Frame: Up to 6 weeks
    • Number of days for subject that have a reduction by at least 2 point from baseline on a six point ordinal scale: Not hospitalized/discharged; Hospitalized, not requiring supplemental oxygen; Hospitalized, requiring supplemental oxygen; Hospitalized, requiring nasal high-flow oxygen therapy, noninvasive mechanical ventilation, or both; Hospitalized, requiring invasive mechanical ventilation, extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), or both; and Death.
  • Overall survival
    • Time Frame: Up to 6 weeks
    • Patients status of alive versus death at completion of study follow up period, i.e. 6 weeks from start.
  • Length of stay in hospital
    • Time Frame: Till hospital discharge, up to 6 weeks
    • Duration of days from baseline to hospital discharge.
  • Ventilator free days
    • Time Frame: Up to 6 weeks
    • For subjects who received mechanical ventilation, total number of days from baseline to end of study at 6 weeks that subject was not on mechanical or non invasive mechanical ventilation.
  • Time to Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) negativity
    • Time Frame: Up to 6 weeks
    • If viremic at starting date of decitabine – time from baseline to 1st recorded negative COVID nucleic acid amplification (NAT) based assay, measured in days.
  • Percentage of patients with National Early Warning Score 2 of 3 or more
    • Time Frame: Weekly while patient is in hospital, up to 6 weeks
    • Determines the degree of illness of a patient and prompts critical care intervention. This composite score includes Respiratory Rate, Temperature, oxygen Saturation, Blood Pressure, Oxygen inspired and cognitive status. This will be measured at baseline and weekly while patient is in hospital.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

1. ≥18 years 2. Use of Intermittent Mechanical Ventilation, non-invasive mechanical ventilation (NIMV) or High Flow Nasal Cannula. 3. Have ARDS or Acute Lung Injury physiology confirmed by Pao2/Fio2 ratio of < 300 4. Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (SARS) – Coronavirus (CoV-2) determined by lab polymerase chain reaction assay in either upper or lower respiratory tract sampling (e.g. bronchoalveolar lavage or nasopharyngeal swab) 5. If childbearing age: agree to practice effective birth control from screening until at least 180 days after last dose Exclusion Criteria:

1. Hematologic cytopenias: Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) <1500/mm3, Hgb<7.0 and/or platelets <100,000/mm3 2. Subjects receiving or enrolled in clinical trial for other investigational treatment for SARS- 2-CoV. 3. Active malignancy, solid tumors, and current or recent chemotherapy 4. Concomitant use of nonbiologic immunosuppressants (e.g. Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors, Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) inhibitors) 5. Active HIV viremia, or any other uncontrolled secondary infection. 6. Concurrent immunomodulating biologics or use of Palifermin, Dipyrone, Deferiprone 7. Subjects with severe sepsis with vasopressors or extrapulmonary organ failure: 8. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) / alanine aminotransferase (ALT) /alkaline phosphatase (ALK) Phos ≥3x upper limit of normal (ULN) and Total Bilirubin (TBILI) ≥2x ULN; or Creatinine clearance <30 mL/min 9. Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding 10. Any Condition, per opinion of PI that would affect subject safety and/or compliance 11. Prior hypersensitivity to decitabine

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Johns Hopkins University
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Franco D’Alessio, M.D, Principal Investigator, Johns Hopkins UIniversity
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Joby Mathew, DPT, MS, 443-416-7573,


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