COVID-19 testing

Finding a treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients

  • Research

Scientists at RCSI have begun a clinical trial of a promising therapy for critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

The clinical trial will demonstrate the potential for alpha-1 antitrypsin to improve outcomes for patients with severe COVID-19-induced respiratory difficulties.

Led by RCSI Professors Gerry McElvaney and Ger Curley, the study – published in the American Journal of Respiratory Research – describes changes in the body’s normal inflammatory response in patients infected with COVID-19, in particular among those who require admission to intensive care.

Despite the implications for global health, the inflammatory characteristics of patients with COVID-19 are not yet fully understood. A greater understanding of how the body’s inflammatory mechanisms are impacted by COVID-19 could open the door to several potential therapies, including antiviral medications and targeted immune-modulators, such as alpha-1 antitrypsin.

Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a naturally occurring human protein produced by the liver. As it is released into the bloodstream it protects the lungs from the destructive actions of many common illnesses. Of particular relevance to COVID-19, it has been shown to modulate the production and activity of several key pro-inflammatory proteins.

Learn more about this research by watching this video

In a collaboration between the Departments of Medicine and Critical Care and Anaesthesia, a team of RCSI clinician scientists sought to ascertain the inflammatory profile of the COVID-19 patient in ICU.

This is the first investigational medicine product trial to be approved in Ireland to test a therapy to treat COVID-19. The trial is being sponsored by RCSI and is coordinated by the RCSI Clinical Research Centre.

RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.