This drug may offer new treatment for COVID-19 lung distress

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In a new study, researchers found that a new drug for lung fibrosis shows promise for treating certain life-threatening effects of COVID-19.

The research was conducted by a team at Yale.

that began developing a few years ago, and his research team is rapidly laying the groundwork for clinical trials.

In lung fibrosis, the drug, called sobetirome, mimics the effects of thyroid hormone therapy, which heals scarring and improves cell function in lungs—but sobetirome lacks the toxic effects of thyroid hormone on the heart and skeletal muscle.

The team recently discovered that sobetirome also showed promise in preventing and treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening condition that allows fluid to leak into the lungs.

ARDS is common in COVID-19 patients, particularly among older patients, and the condition can lead to respiratory failure and death.

The drug has not yet been tested for ARDS in humans, but the team added that once they secure needed funding, they can quickly move it to trial and FDA approval.

On any given day, there are 20-30 patients in the Yale New Haven Hospital’s Intensive Care Units with ARDS.

Typically, a patient who developed ARDS would be in and out of the ICU in three to five days.

But patients with COVID-19 develop ARDS and related complications for weeks, putting a massive strain on ICU beds and ventilators.

The team hopes to capitalize on a specific aspect of COVID-19: Its five to seven day incubation period.

COVID-19 has a “lurking period,” before patients begin experiencing shortness of breath, a drop in oxygen levels, and respiratory failure.

Internally, what’s happening in the body is known as a “cytokine storm,” a way that scientists describe a massive overreaction of the body’s immune system, leading to a flooding of immune cells and fluid into the lungs—and hastening patient death.

The drug sobetirome has already been tested in humans and is already known to be safe. That would speed the drug’s approval process for COVID-19.

Sobetirome is at the top of a list of over 20 Yale compounds and devices in various stages of development that could be useful in treating the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and are being explored both by the Advanced Therapies Group and experts at the Yale Office of Cooperative Research (OCR), which manages and promotes university discoveries for commercial development.

All involved are racing against the clock to get new treatments to patients in need.

The leader of the study is Yale pulmonologist Dr. Naftali Kaminski.

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