In a new study, researchers found a type of arthritis drug may reduce the risk of death for elderly patients with COVID-19.
The research was conducted by a team at Imperial College London and the Karolinska Institutet.
In the early-stage study, 83 patients, with a median age of 81 and all suffering from moderate to severe COVID-19 infection, were given a drug called baricitinib.
This medication is usually used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and was initially identified by the Imperial team using artificial intelligence as a drug that could have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects.
In the study, the patients, who were in multiple hospitals across Italy and Spain, had a 71% reduced risk of dying compared to patients who had not taken the drug.
The team also found that 17% of patients who were given the drug died or needed to go on a ventilator, compared to 35% in the control group who were not given the medication.
The findings revealed that the drug may help work in two ways: reduce organ damage caused by inflammation, and blocking the virus from entering human cells.
This drug could aid the recovery of patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 and may provide a new weapon in the battle against the virus.
The researchers say the findings are being followed up with large-scale clinical trials.
This is one of the first COVID-19 treatments to go from computer to the clinic and laboratory.
It was first identified by an AI algorithm in February, which scanned thousands of potential drugs that could work against this virus.
One author of the study is Professor Justin Stebbing.
The study is published in Science Advances.
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