New drug could help high-risk COVID-19 patients

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 New drug to help high-risk COVID-19 patients < /p>

University of Virginia scientists say a drug used to lower blood sugar levels shows potential in fighting severe cases of COVID-19, especially in people with obesity and diabetes.

The new results, published in the peer-reviewed journal ScienceImmunology, indicate that the insulin-sensitizing drug MSDC-0206K could be a solution for these patients, protecting them from inflammation and dangerous blood sugar levels that can spike due to the coronavirus. The medicine will come in the form of a pill, not a vaccine.

“Our work has identified a metabolic pathway that simultaneously modulates COVID-19 inflammation, lung recovery, and host metabolic health, and suggests a viable therapeutic agent that can be combined with existing antiviral agents to treat severe COVID-19 in patients with metabolic disease,” – says Jie Song, Ph.D. and a professor at the University of California School of Medicine.

When tested in mice, the new approach was combined with an antiviral component of the COVID treatment. Sun explained that the therapy targets the fuel transporter in the mitochondria, the “powerhouse of cells”, adding that reducing the activity of this transporter protects obese lab mice from severe illness caused by influenza and COVID-19.

“We know steroids are effective for severe COVID-19, but these drugs have side effects such as elevated blood glucose levels that make them difficult to use in obese and diabetic patients,” – explains study co-author Jeffrey Sturek, MD. “The really exciting part – it is the ability to treat both inflammation and altered glucose metabolism”.
The researchers said that trials done on human lung samples were just as promising, and clinical trials are now being planned in people with COVID-19.

“Diabetes increases the severity of COVID-19, and conversely, COVID-19 can lead to high blood glucose levels”,– Sun says. “We can use a second generation thiazolidinedione drug to disrupt the network of SARS-CoV-2 infection, hyperglycemia and hyperinflammation – all factors known to influence the pathophysiology of COVID-19”.

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