COVID-19 has been around for quite some time and several vaccines have been developed. However, treatment options for severely ill patients with the disease have been limited.
A phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Health Sciences and Beaumont Hospital Dublin identified an effective treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients. The study was published on Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Advances.
The study investigated the effects of using the anti-inflammatory protein alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) to treat COVID-19 patients whose condition has progressed to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS is a highly inflammatory state hallmarked by airway damage, respiratory failure and an increased risk of death. Treatment options for COVID-19 patients who have ARDS are currently limited.
AAT is a naturally occurring human protein produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream which normally acts to protect the lungs from the destructive actions of common illnesses.
In this randomized controlled trial, AAT proteins that had been isolated from the blood of healthy donors were administered intravenously to patients with COVID-19-associated ARDS, with the aim of reducing inflammation.
The results of the study indicate that treatment with AAT protein led to decreased inflammation after one week. The study also found that the treatment was safe and well-tolerated, and did not interfere with patients' ability to generate their own protective response to COVID-19.
Study co-author Dr. Oliver McElvaney commented on the findings: "We know that patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 are more prone to developing severe inflammation throughout the body, with a disproportionately high rate of progression to ARDS and other serious respiratory issues."
"We think AAT might be able to provide some protection against the more harmful types of inflammation that arise in severe COVID-19 and other conditions with a similar inflammatory profile," he added.