EU Commission taking new Covid variant 'very seriously'
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Results from a new study have indicated that prostacyclin, which is used at hospitals regularly, could help steer critically ill patients to safety. It is normally used to treat high blood pressure in the lungs, But a research team led by Professor Pär Johansson from the Department of Clinical Immunology at Rigshospitalet in Denmark investigated whether it can help patients by reducing damage to the endothelial cells, which lines the inside of all blood vessels.
The team took 80 patients in intensive-care departments in Denmark for the trial.
Half of them received the medicine, and the other half were the control group who received normal saline.
Patients who had three days of treatment with prostacyclin showed that they had overall significantly less damage to their vital organs when they were in the intensive-care department.
Mortality was also halved from 44 percent for the control group to 22 percent for the group who were given prostacyclin.
But because the size of the group used in the study was small, the researchers have stressed that the results are not overly significant.
Prof Johansson said: “We found that the patients who had received prostacyclin overall had better organ function and better chances of survival.
“There are still many COVID-19 patients at intensive care departments around the world and we are very pleased that now it seems there’s possibly a better treatment option.”
Prostacyclin has been in use in hospitals ever since the 1980s, usually to treat high blood pressure in the pulmonary.
Prof Johansson had already shown earlier that in low doses, the drug might have a positive effect on endothelial cells in critically ill patients in who are treated in intensive care departments.
Prof Johansson said: “We’ve discovered that damage to the endothelial cells in the body’s smallest blood vessels, the capillaries, can cause a very serious condition for the patient.
“When the endothelial cells in capillaries are damaged, micro blood clots occur that limit oxygen availability in the vital organs and cause serious damage to the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys. It seems that this process can be reversed by treating patients with prostacyclin.”
Patients are examined for signs of damage to the endothelial cells in a test for a specific biomarker, known as soluble thrombomodulin.
While the results are not yet entirely conclusive, the study authors hope that other researchers will follow up on the promising results.
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Prof Johansson said: “It is important to examine whether the same effect can also be seen when a larger number of patients are investigated.”
The results have been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The research team are now undergoing a larger study that is focusing on the effect of prostacyclin on organ failure in patients with septic shock and severe endotheliopathy.
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