COVID-19-Drugs: German Researchers Show That Cancer Drug Ruxolitinib Can Help Treat COVID-19 Patients With Acute Respiratory Distress
: German researchers from Marburg University Hospital claim that the cancer drug ruxolitinib is able to stop inflammatory processes in COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory syndrome (ARDS).
Their research findings were published in the journal: Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/s41375-020-0907-9
Dr Thomas Wiesmann who is from intensive care team in the Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care at Marburg University Hospital told Thailand Medical News, “It has been observed that about 5 percent SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases usually progresses severely that acute respiratory distress can occur. The mortality rate in these cases is high.”
In a case study at the hospital, a 65-year-old female patient without pre-existing conditions was admitted to the hospital for progressive shortness of breath and fever. Her shortness of breath worsened so rapidly that she had to be intubated to receive artificial ventilation three hours after admission. A standard molecular genetic test confirmed she was infected with SARS-CoV-2. The patient's overall prognosis was assessed as very poor due to extensive organ damage.
Dr Andreas Neubauer, co-author and a researcher of hematology, oncology and immunology of the Department of Medicine, Marburg University said, "Our team knew from Chinese publications that patients with a severe and even fatal course of the disease are characterized by a so-called cytokine storm. During a cytokine storm, the body is flooded with substances that stimulate the immune system. This overreaction of the body's own defense system damages the tissue making it all the easier for the invading virus to spread.”
Dr Neubauer suspected that the patient might respond to ruxolitinib, a drug originally used in cancer treatment. It inhibits enzymes in the body involved in excessive inflammatory reactions.
He added, "We suggested to our colleagues who were treating the patients that the cancer drug might be able to prevent the life-threatening effects brought on by the inflammatory damage to lung tissue."
Professor Dr Hinnerk Wulf, Director of the Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Marburg University Hospital added, "We were faced with a difficult decision. It was uncertain whether the theory would also work in practice; after all, the experimental treatment was also associated with a risk."
Significantly, the condition of the Marburg University Medicine patient did improve after she received ruxolitinib. The treatment team noted clinical stabilization as well as rapid improvement in respiration and heart function.
Dr Wiesmann commented, "This course of treatment was remarkable compared to that in other patients. The patient was gradually weaned from the ventilator starting on the tenth day of her hospital stay. Virus replication was also reduced during the administration of the cancer drug.”
It should be noted that the success of the treatment was not an isolated case.
The research team in Marburg also administered the cancer drug to several other patients to control a severe course of the disease.
Dr Neubauer explains, "It turned out well in the end for all patients who received the cancer drug for longer than one week."
A study team lead by Professor Dr Paul Graf La Rosée at Schwarzwald-Baar Hospital has also reported the successful use of the immune inhibitor, although in less severe cases.
Dr Neubauer explained, "The time between onset of ruxolitinib administration and improvement of health is so short that it is reasonable to assume that the drug ruxolitinib contributed to the favorable clinical course.”
The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, based on the success of the treatment, has approved a clinical trial that will test the effect of the administration of ruxolitinib in additional COVID-19 patients.
Thailand Medical News will provide updates of this ruxolitibib trial on COVID-19 patients and also provide further updates on any COVID-19 Drugs
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