COVID-19 Pneumonia Drugs: Colchicine Being Studied To Prevent Cytokine Storms In Patients
COVID-19 Pneumonia Drugs
: Colchicine, an oral anti-inflammatory that has long been prescribed for gout, a form of arthritis with a long history dating back thousands of years is being studied as a possible treatment protocol for COVID-19.
Besides treating gout, the drug that is made from phytochemicals of the autumn crocus flower has also been used by medical experts to treat pericarditis, a condition in which the sac around the heart becomes inflamed.
However, medical researchers in the United States and Canada are now testing it for a different purpose ie to keep high-risk COVID-19 patients from getting progressing into critical stages.
Colchicine is just one of several anti-inflammatory drugs currently in clinical trials for treating COVID-19.
One Greek study involving a small group of COVID-19 patients taking Colchicine, proved to be effective in preventing the cytokine induced pneumonia. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1109966620300610
The medical community now believes that the worst effects of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection are caused not by the virus itself, but by a massive overreaction of the immune system, known as a cytokine storm.
Typically in a cytokine storm, the immune system goes into overdrive, flooding the body with proteins (cytokines) that trigger widespread inflammation. That causes often fatal damage to organs.
The immune reaction is not unique to COVID-19 as cytokine storms can arise in response to other infections, to cancer, to certain cancer therapies, or in people with autoimmune diseases.
The storm that brews against the new coronavirus does appear to be unique in certain ways as it starts in the lungs first.
Many medical researchers believe that treatments for cytokine storm could ultimately prove to be critical in battling the coronavirus pandemic.
To date a few powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, used for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, are already in late-stage trials.
Those studies involve patients already hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia.
However, the colchicine study is different, said researcher Dr Priscilla Hsue, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
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Dr Hsue told Thailand Medical News
, "One of the unique aspects is that
we're trying to hit this before people need to be hospitalized."
Dr Hseu further explained, “Colchicine is the medication of choice for a few reasons. Unlike the drugs being tested in hospital patients which are given by infusion or injection colchicine tablets are easy to take and inexpensive. And the medication has a long history of safe use for gout.”
Furthermore Dr Hsue added that a recent trial found that low-dose colchicine benefits people who've recently suffered a heart attack. Patients who took one tablet a day curbed their risk of further heart complications or stroke over the next two years.
Interestingly heart injury is a common problem in people who become seriously ill with COVID-19 at least partly, researchers suspect, because of cytokine storm. Dr Hsue said it all raises the question of whether colchicine could help prevent such heart issues.
The clinical trial aims to enroll 6,000 patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19 who are at increased risk of serious illness because they are older than 69, or have conditions like heart or lung disease.
Further to keeping those patients isolated at home, the study has an unusual "contactless" design in that patients will receive the medication by courier, and have follow-up visits via video or phone. The medical researchers will look at whether the tactic lowers hospitalization rates and deaths over 4 weeks.
Dr Hsue further added pointed that with the safety record of the medication, and the dose given in the trial being lower than what's routinely used for gout, the while trial is full proof.
The new colchicine study is currently recruiting patients, with UCSF and New York University School of Medicine being the first two U.S. sites involved.
In other parts of the world, vermectin is also being paired with colchicine for treating moderate and critical COVID-19patients but not those with mild symptoms as it might be an ‘overkill.’
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