For some, a COVID-19 infection brings only mild flu symptoms. For others, however, more serious processes such as blood clots occur. Now, a drug that aims to deter lung damage and blood clots in COVID-19 patients will soon by trialed in hospitals in the UK.
According to the British Heart Foundation, who are funding the trial supported by their Centre of Research at Imperial College London, the drug (a molecule known as TRV027) targets cell pathways which are “thought to be major drivers of severe illness in COVID-19”.
Medics have claimed that around 30% of COVID-19 patients have developed blood clots, according to the BBC. Roopen Arya, professor of thrombosis and haemostasis at King’s College Hospital, London told the BBC in May that, “it has become apparent that thrombosis is a major problem.”
“Particularly in severely affected COVID-19 patients in critical care, where some of the more recent studies show that nearly half the patients have pulmonary embolism or blood clot on the lungs,” said Arya.
The drug being used in the trial aims to restore the balance between two hormones (angiotensin II and angiotensin 1-7) which control blood pressure and affect vessels. The balance is usually maintained by a protein called ACE-2. However, it appears that COVID-19 uses ACE-2 to enter the body and at the same time disables the protein.
The hormones then fall out of balance. This can cause blood to become sticky, which leads to clotting. The researchers have theorised that TRV027 can restore the balance.
Dr Kat Pollock, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Vaccinology and Honorary Consultant at Imperial College London who is jointly leading the study said: “We need to move away from thinking of COVID-19 as solely a respiratory illness – it also has devastating effects on the rest of the body including the blood vessels and heart. When this infection was first described, we were surprised to learn that people with heart and circulatory diseases appeared to be at risk.
“Our study will play an important role in understanding the mechanisms which make COVID-19 dangerous and offers a potential treatment.”
The pilot trial will involve 60 patients with confirmed or suspected infection. Half will be given TRV027, and the other half will receive a placebo after which researchers will follow patients for 8 days, during the critical period when symptoms worsen.
Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said, “Without an effective vaccine for Covid-19, we urgently need to find new treatments which can reduce the damage caused by this virus.”