COVID patient in hospital

New treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients

  • Research

A study from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Beaumont and St James’s Hospitals in Dublin, has found a potential new treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The study, which is the first Irish-led clinical trial for a treatment for COVID-19, analysed the treatment of patients who were critically ill with COVID-19. Patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 are more prone to developing severe inflammation throughout the body, with a disproportionately high rate of progression to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and other serious respiratory issues.

ARDS is a highly inflammatory condition that damages the airwaves and causes increased risk of death. Treatment options for COVID-19 patients with ARDS are currently limited.

In this study, COVID-19 patients with ARDS took part in the clinical trial and were given an anti-inflammatory treatment made from a protein called AAT (Alpha-1 Antitryspin). AAT is a naturally occurring protein that is produced in the liver and normally acts to protect the lungs from the destructive actions of common illnesses.

The results of the trial indicated that treatment with AAT led to decreased inflammation after one week. The study also found that the treatment was safe and well tolerated, and did not interfere with patients' ability to generate their own protective responses to COVID-19.

Published in Med, the findings of this trial suggest a potentially important role for this new treatment of ARDS and other inflammatory diseases associated with COVID-19. The results will now form the basis for a larger trial to see how much of an effect reducing inflammation using AAT has on clinical outcomes.

The study was conducted by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in collaboration with Beaumont Hospital, Dublin and St James's Hospital, Dublin.

Co-lead authors on the paper are Dr Oliver McElvaney, RCSI Department of Medicine and Natalie McEvoy, Senior Clinical Research Nurse, RCSI Department of Critical Care and Anaesthesia.

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