- A research study found that patients who have elevated levels of two certain proteins are more likely to exhibit severe coronavirus symptoms.
- Drugs designed to block the proteins are currently being tested for FDA approval
One of the more peculiar aspects of the coronavirus is that it impacts people in completely different ways. Whereas one person might test positive and exhibit no symptoms whatsoever, another person might experience symptoms that some recovered patients have likened to living through hell. What’s more, men seem to be at higher risk than women, and children seem to be unaffected by the virus entirely. Suffice it to say, it took medical professionals some time to fully understand the extent to which the coronavirus can impact different groups of people.
It has since been established that adults with existing comorbidities like chronic cardiac disease, diabetes, pulmonary disease, kidney disease, and asthma are far more likely to ensure severe coronavirus symptoms than others.
Taking things a step further, researchers from Mount Sinai back in September revealed that there are various markers that can be tested to help physicians more accurately determine which patients are likely to bear the full brunt of the coronavirus and, in turn, treat them accordingly.
The researchers specifically found that when two proteins — IL-6 and TNF-a — are found in a patient’s bloodstream at elevated levels, they’re more likely to die from the coronavirus than others.
This study suggests that these cytokines should be monitored in the treatment of COVID-19 patients to help select those who should enter clinical trials and receive specific drugs that can target them.
The team says that serum IL-6 and TNF-α levels should be considered in the management and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
They also suggest that patients with high IL-6 and TNF-α levels should be assessed for the combinatorial blockade of pathogenic inflammation in this disease.
The study itself — which can be read in full over here — reads in part:
Beyond IL-6, several cytokines have been shown to be elevated in CRS and to contribute to tissue damage. TNF-α is important in nearly all acute inflammatory reactions, acting as an amplifier of inflammation. TNF-α blockade has been used to treat more than ten different autoimmune inflammatory diseases, suggesting that this might be a potential therapeutic approach to reduce organ damage in patients with COVID-19
What’s both promising and interesting is that coronavirus drugs currently being tested for FDA approval are already designed to block the IL-6 and TNF-α proteins.
As to preventing the coronavirus from taking hold in the first place, work on an effective coronavirus vaccine remains ongoing. As it stands now, there are a few potential vaccine candidates in the midst of clinical trials and Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said that we’ll know whether a vaccine will be FDA-approved by November.
At the same time, Fauci last week said that while it’s important for people to remain vigilant with respect to coronavirus safety measures, it’s also important to remind people that the pandemic will eventually come to an end.
“This outbreak will end,” Fauci said. “We will get a vaccine. And if we combine a vaccine with prudent public health measures, we can put this behind us.”