Patients given lipid-lowering TriCor were able to go off oxygen support in one week.
A Hebrew University study shows that a lipid-lowering drug reduces inflammation in Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in 48 hours and removes the need for oxygen support within five to seven days.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has infected over 165 million people worldwide causing nearly 3.5 million deaths. Recent vaccination efforts have been hindered by multiple Coronavirus variants that challenge existing vaccines.
While infection generally produces a mild disease, in some patients it can develop into a severe inflammatory COVID-19 requiring medical intervention.
The team identified the lipid-lowering drug TriCor (fenofibrate) as an effective antiviral last year, showing in the laboratory that it both reduced lung cell damage and blocked virus replication. These results have since been confirmed by several international research teams.
An observational study carried out in multiple clinical centers in Israel was reported last October to support the original findings. The team then launched an interventional clinical study to treat severe COVID-19 patients at Israel’s Barzilai Medical Center with support from Abbott Laboratories.
Now, the HU team is reporting promising results of an investigator-initiated interventional open-label clinical study led by Nahmias and coordinated by Prof. Shlomo Maayan, Head of Infectious Disease Unit at Barzilai.
In this single-arm, open-label study, 15 severe-hospitalized COVID-19 patients with pneumonia requiring oxygen support were treated. In addition to standard of care, the patients were given 145 mg/day of TriCor for 10 days and continuously monitored for disease progression and outcomes.
These results are promising as TriCor was approved by the FDA in 1975 for long-term use and has a strong safety record.
“There are no silver bullets”, stressed Nahmias, “but fenofibrate is far safer than other drugs proposed to date, and its mechanism of action makes it less likely to be variant-specific”.
“All patients were discharged within less than a week after the treatment began and were discharged to complete the 10-day treatment at home, with no drug-related adverse events reported,” noted Maayan.
“Further, fewer patients reported COVID-19 side effects during their 4-week follow-up appointment,” he added. These preliminary findings offer promise to relieve the substantial health burdens experienced by patients who survive the acute phase of COVID-19,” he said.