In a major stride toward Covid-19 treatment, an Australian researcher has developed a drug that addresses clotting of blood in the novel coronavirus patients. Blood clotting has been largely associated with breathing difficulties, organ failure, stroke and heart attack in Covid-19 patients.
According to Professor Shaun Jackson of the University of Sydney, who is leading the team of researchers that’s working for the anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine, about three in four of critical Covid-19 patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) develop clots with their recovery rate critically low.
In collaboration with the Heart Research Institute, Jackson’s team of researchers is developing a new anti-clotting medicine to treat stroke. If the medicine is successful in preventing the blood clots, organ failure and the resultant deaths in thousands of cases could be avoided.
The drug passed the first phase successfully in its trials of 72 healthy patients. Now, the researchers are hoping to enter the second phase soon where they would test the safety and efficacy of the drug on critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients.
Blood clots in Covid-19 patients
A number of key studies on Covid-19 studies have pointed to blood clots as a key reason behind serious illness and death among Covid-19 patients, with blood thinners showing promising results for severe Covid-19 infections.
Clots happen naturally in response to injuries to prevent blood loss. However, when formed in a blood vessel, they can restrict the flow of blood leading to life-threatening complications.
The condition is known as thrombus. And if a thrombus moves to other parts of the body, it creates a phenomenon known as embolus. Embolus poses a serious risk to life if it reaches the lungs, brain, or heart.
In a majority of Covid-19 cases, either phenomenon was present. Although clots tend to develop in hospitalized patients as their physical movement is restricted, the occurrence in coronavirus patients has been significantly high.
Blood thinners now a treatment protocol
After a strong link between blood clotting and the occurrence of severe illness and deaths in Covid-19 patients was found, physicians the world over began to have blood clots on their radar screen.
Some physicians started to put patients on full anti-clotting drugs as soon as they entered the emergency room, rather than lower preventive doses.
While anticoagulants were found effective against thicker clots, they were not found to be helpful against microclots that some coronavirus patients develop.
These microclots are too many and hard to spot. Autopsies have shown lungs of many Covid-19 casualties filled with hundreds of microclots that regular blood-thinners don’t work against.
It is hoped that Australia’s new clot-busting medicine will resolve the problem of microclotting as well.