COVID-19 Updates: COVID-19 Patient In Canada Becomes The First To Be Treated Using Modified Dialysis
: Medical researchers from Lawson Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, as part of a randomized controlled trial, have treated a patient with COVID-19 using a modified dialysis device. The device gently removes a patient's blood, modifies white blood cells and returns them to fight hyper-inflammation.
This modified dialysis device gently removes a patient's blood, 'reprograms' white
blood cells and returns them to fight hyperinflammation. Credit: Lawson Health Research Institute
The modified device is being tested with critically ill COVID-19 patients at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in Ontario.
Clinical evidence suggests that COVID-19 causes a heightened immune response, termed a 'cytokine storm,' in the most severely ill patients.
To date, treatment options to address this hyperinflammatory state are currently limited and there are concerns about global drug shortages.
Dr Chris McIntyre, lead researcher, Lawson Scientist and LHSC a Nephrologist told Thailand Medical News, "Working in the intensive care unit (ICU), I was aware that more treatment options were needed in the fight against COVID-19. This led to the idea of treating a patient's blood outside of the body. We could reprogram white blood cells associated with inflammation to alter the immune response."
The new study utilizes a modified version of a standard dialyzer called an extracorporeal leukocyte modifying device. It gently removes blood in a much slower circuit than standard dialysis. Through a process using specific levels of biochemical components, it targets and transforms white blood cells associated with inflammation before releasing them back into circulation. The hope is that these 'reprogrammed' cells will now fight hyperinflammation rather than promoting it in affected organs like the lungs.
The ongoing clinical trial will include up to 40 critically ill patients with COVID-19 at LHSC's Victoria Hospital and University Hospital. Research participants will be randomized to receive either standard supportive care or standard supportive care in combination with this novel treatment. The research team will compare patient outcomes to determine if the treatment is effective.
Dr. Chris McIntyre, Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, is the first in the
world to treat a patient with COVID-19 using a modified dialysis device.
Credit: Lawson Health Research Institute
Dr McIntyre explained, "The ultimate goal is to improve patient survival and lessen their dependency on oxygen and ventilation. If effective, it's possible that this treatment c
ould be combined with other therapies. For example, this could be used to modulate inflammatory consequences while an antiviral drug is used to reduce the viral load."
The new trial led by Lawson's Kidney Clinical Research Unit was accelerated from initial conception to treatment of the first patient in only 40 days. It represents significant research collaboration with a multidisciplinary team.
The clinical trial is leveraging insights gained from another local study led by Dr Douglas Fraser which is analyzing blood samples from COVID-19 patients at LHSC to better understand the cytokine storm.
Dr Fraser, a research scientist at Lawson and Paediatric Critical Care Physician at LHSC said, "We're identifying which cytokines or biomarkers are important to the hyperinflammatory response seen in COVID-19 patients. With the knowledge we're gaining, we can study a patient's blood to determine whether this extracorporeal treatment is making a difference."
The new treatment protocol also has prospective potential to be used with other conditions like sepsis.
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