Results of a trial conducted to examine how Tocilizumab, a drug used to treat a serious type of arthritis in children and rheumatoid arthritis, can help patients with COVID-19 has shown its effectiveness in helping patients with severe forms of the infectious disease. The trial involved over 2,000 infected people from more than 15 countries according to the study, the BBC reports.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of Tocilizumab and other immunosuppressive drugs and found out after 303 results from patients who were treated with Tocilizumab were analyzed, that the arthritis drug seems to be having a positive effect on patients with severe COVID-19 cases. The researchers, a group of researchers from the Netherlands and the UK described the result as “amazing”.
The drug has been discontinued from the trial because of initial success recorded, though some experts have advised caution pending the release of the full data of the trial.
The researchers explained that in patients with COVID-19, the immune system overworks itself trying to get rid of the foreign object. Often the overworked immune system rather than the coronavirus is the cause of death, the scientists explained. Tocilizumab comes to the rescue as a drug that reduces the reaction of the immune system buying the patients enough time to heal from the virus without their immune systems going wonky, the Guardian writes.
The medical trial was conducted by scientists from the Imperial College London and Utrecht University, both public universities in London and the Netherlands respectively, as well as the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre in the United Kingdom. The scientists worked on alleviating the burdens of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 who had to be placed on ventilators.
The researchers explained that it is still quite unclear if the drug makes patients ill faster or it saves their lives, but they hope that it stops patients with severe cases of the infectious disease from dying by making their recovery time very fast.
“We are not sure yet, which it does, but we hope it saves lives and hastens up recovery,” Prof Anthony Gordon, one of the researchers from Imperial College London said.
Gordon explained further that either way, the drug is certainly doing something and could be adopted in the treatment of severe cases of COVID-19. Tocilizumab treatments administered intravenously cost between £500-£1000 (approximately $600-$1200). The data from the trial has not been published in the journal because it is still properly-being analyzed the scientists explained.
Dr. Leannie Derde a consultant in the ICU at the University Medical Center in Utrecht applauded the results as an “extraordinary and amazing” one. He explained that it is a huge feat to have another drug that can be used to treat severe cases of COVID-19. An earlier study had revealed that Steroids such as Dexamethasone can be used to treat severe cases of COVID-19.
One of the researchers involved in the Steroids project, Prof Peter Horby from the University of Oxford has applauded the work on Tocilizumab. Horby explained that the trial shows that other anti-inflammatory drugs might also prove to be effective in the fight against infectious disease. He also explained that he is anticipating the full data from the trial.