New treatment for Covid-19 trialed by University of Dundee

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A NEW treatment for Covid-19 is set to be trialed which aims to reduce lung inflammation in coronavirus patients.

Researchers from The University of Dundee will work with drug development company Evgen Pharma to test whether the drug, known as SFX-01, improves outcomes for Covid-19 patients.

The study is being supported by a grant from the medical research charity LifeArc, as part of its activities to address the need for new Covid-19 therapies.

Covid-19 causes the development of slowly worsening lung damage called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in around 10% of patients admitted to hospital.

When this occurs, no currently available drug can slow the progression of ARDS and patients ultimately require mechanical ventilation in intensive care until the inflammation resolves itself and the lungs begin to heal.

30% of patients with ARDS may go on to die, while the number of patients requiring ventilation for ARDS has been one of the major challenges for healthcare systems.

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Finding treatments that can prevent the development of ARDS and improve patient recovery is therefore one of the top priorities for Covid-19 research.

James Chalmers, British Lung Foundation Professor of Respiratory Research at the University said: “SFX-01 is an anti-inflammatory medication that we believe may have the potential to reduce some of the worst outcomes of Covid-10.

“The body defends itself against inflammatory and oxidative stress by increasing levels of chemical called Nrf2.

“SFX-01 activates the Nrf2 system and puts it into overdrive to enhance defences against inflammatory damage.

“There is evidence that Nrf2 activation can reduce the severity of acute lung injury and ARDS.

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“As such, we hypothesise that early treatment with an Nrf2 activator in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 may prevent deterioration and help to preserve precious ICU resources in the context of the pandemic.

“This is a completely new mechanism as there is currently no drug that targets Nrf2.”

The study will recruit up to 300 volunteers from hospitals across the UK, with patients offered the chance to participate immediately after their diagnosis.

Half the group will receive SFX-01 in addition to standard hospital care while the other half will receive a placebo. Results are expected by the end of the year.

Barry Clare, Chairman of Evgen Pharma said: “We have great respect for the clinical and research staff at Dundee and are delighted to be supporting the University in this trial.

“We are excited at the opportunity to test whether an Nrf2 activator such as SFX-01 may have a role in helping the recovery of Covid-19 patients.”