This old drug could prevent lung damage in people with COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found early clinical evidence demonstrating the efficacy of an existing drug in treating COVID-19.

They applied a well-established existing drug to address the buildup of fats in human lung cells caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Results from 1,500 Israel-based COVID-19 patients have been extremely promising.

Clinical studies are scheduled to begin this week at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, joining other clinical centers across the United States, South America and Europe.

The research was conducted by a team at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

The study began in July 2020 when the team demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was inhibiting the effective breakdown of fat within the lungs.

The research then identified the efficacy of Fenofibrate (Tricor), an FDA approved drug that has been on the market since 1975 to address this deficiency in COVID-19 patients.

The drug is traditionally designed to address high levels of triglycerides (fats) in the blood. When applied to COVID-19 patients, the study proposes that it will stop the progression of the disease.

The researchers gathered data from 1,500 COVID-19 patients who were on a regiment of drugs designed to reduce the fatty buildup in lung cells.

The results were abundantly clear. Patients who were taking the drugs to speed up the breakdown of fats were recovering from the COVID-19 caused lung infections in a matter of days.

The evidence even showed that there was zero mortality among these patients.

The findings showed that the human lungs responded to the SARS-CoV-2 virus by completely changing their metabolism, causing a major buildup of fats in lung cells.

This unhealthy fat buildup is a critical factor in the COVID-19 patient’s deterioration.

Patients taking fibrates that work directly to breakdown fats recovered fast from the disease, while those taking medications that build fats like thiazolidinediones, showed greater lung damage and mortality.

According to the research team, applying the use of this established drug, which is widely available, inexpensive and has a proven safety record, could alter the effects of COVID-19 from a devastating disease to a far more manageable form of a respiratory cold.

In the coming days, the team will begin an investigator-led Phase 3a clinical study.

Other clinical studies intended to corroborate the findings are also taking place in the US, Europe and South America.

One author of the study is Professor Yaakov Nahmias.

The study was presented at the recent SPARK Conference on Generic Drug Repurposing for COVID-19.

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