This common stroke drug may help treat COVID-19

In a new study, researchers suggest that a drug commonly used to treat patients suffering from strokes could be repurposed to treat patients with COVID-19.

They suggest a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) could be a ‘pragmatic’ way to tackle lung injury complications caused by the virus.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Aberdeen.

Similar diseases to COVID-19, including the common flu, can create inflammation which results in deposits of a protein called fibrin. Fibrin is the scaffold that blood clots are made of.

This build-up of fibrin takes up space and reduces the amount of oxygen the lung can take in.

Patients with COVID-19 are prone to forming unwanted blood clots which ultimately increases the risk of death.

Currently, the advice is to treat COVID-19 patients with lung complications using medication to prevent unwanted blood clots forming.

However, these medications will not help to breakdown clots that have already formed.

In this review article, the team proposes the clot-buster drug, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which is currently used to treat stroke patients, could be used to target clots that have already formed.

The team says given the urgent time scale of treating severely ill patients and the current burden on the NHS, repurposing of existing therapies, such as tPA, is a pragmatic approach in addressing the lung injury complications associated with COVID-19.

One author of the study is Dr. Nicola Mutch from the University’s Cardiovascular & Diabetes Centre.

The study is published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

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