Turns out that you can ruin an aspirin a day for everyone: a drug developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca called liso-cel may stop COVID-19, a disease that is a genetic mutation linked to congenital heart disease and neurodevelopmental delay, before it hits the bloodstream.
COVID-19 is the 1.5 to 2% of people with Down syndrome who have been diagnosed with this genetic mutation. The disease causes a large blood clot in the cerebral artery that increases the risk of stroke, causing heart failure and making older people more likely to die of heart disease. Treating the disease takes 10 to 15 years, even with appropriate medications.
Liso-cel, on the other hand, is effective at blocking the clotting effect of COVID-19 in a laboratory experiment with mice and mice implanted with human COVID-19 — a message that was recently picked up by scientists studying the disease at the University of Cambridge, leading to a pilot study with five people who got Liso-cel to prevent brain swelling after strokes.
In the papers published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Shu-Ning Huang, of the University of Cambridge’s Clinical Research Division, and colleagues wrote that without Liso-cel, a group of people who have sustained an atrial fibrillation stroke had their heart rates increase to 104 beats per minute, putting them at risk of having a second stroke. Without COVID-19, these patients had normalized rates of 90-to-100 beats per minute — a substantial decrease.
The drugs they used to test liso-cel are known as angiotensin II receptor blockers, a class of medication used for the treatment of high blood pressure. There are also drugs that aim to stop COVID-19; Liso-cel makes more sense to researchers, however, because of the drug’s proven efficacy in trials and because it only needs to be used for a few weeks.
One challenge in finding new drugs for adult patients with COVID-19 is that most of them are older. In the pilot study, patients were in their 20s and 30s, and half of them were known to have the COVID-19 mutation, while the other half did not. Huang said that Liso-cel could work for young patients with the mutation, but more research was needed.
The public acceptance of the condition’s cause — it’s not specified on birth certificates — also makes its progress much harder, Huang said. In that sense, development of new drugs for COVID-19 is a struggle that scientists have been going after for decades. “This should not happen again, and should not happen again and should not happen again,” he said.
Read the full story at Al Jazeera.
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