Drug prescribed for cholesterol may reduce risk of Covid infection by 70 percent

Shocking x-ray shows lungs with and without covid-19

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The development of the delta COVID-19 variant resulted in rapid infection rates and death worldwide. Although the mass vaccination rollout has significantly curbed the link between infection and hospitalisation, scientists continue to stress the need for treatment to manage COVID-19 patients. A research team has demonstrated that fenofibrate, a drug prescribed to manage high cholesterol, can significantly reduce COVID-19 infection in humans cells. The findings, researchers hope, will have global implications given the safety profile and worldwide use of the drug.

A research team, led by the University of Birmingham and Keele University scientist, has found that fenofibrate and its active form, fenofibric acid, could significantly reduce COVID-19 infections in humans.

Fenofibrate, an oral drug used to treat abnormal blood lipid levels and high cholesterol, is approved for use in UK.

The drug is more effective than statins at increasing HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels, but less effective than statins at lowering LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels.

In 2020, scientists discovered that the COVID-19 virus used ACE2 receptors to enter lung cells.

READ MORE: Pfizer Covid vaccine: Four new suspected side effects of the vaccine reported

The virus infects the host through an interaction between the ‘spike’ protein on the surface of the virus and the ACE2 receptor protein on host cells.

Fenofibric acid also destabilises the receptor binding domain of the viral spike protein, and inhibits the cell by binding to ACE2 receptors.

This prompted researchers to investigate the efficacy of fenofibrate in reducing infection in cells using original strains of COVID-19.

Using concentrations of the drug which are ‘safe and achievable’ – according to the standard clinical dose of fenofibrate – researchers observed infection rates in human cells dropped by up to 70 percent.

Co-author Doctor Elisa Vicenzi, of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy, said: “Our data indicated that fenofribate may have the potential to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and also the virus spread.

“Given that fenofibrate is an oral drug which is very cheap and available worldwide, together with its extensive history of clinical use and its good safety profile, our data has global implications – especially in low-middle income countries and in those individuals for whom vaccines are not recommended or suitable such as children, those with hyper-immune disorders and those using immune-suppressants.”

Furthermore, unpublished data showed that fenofribate is equally effective against newer variants of COVID-19, including the alpha and beta variants. Research into the drug’s efficacy against the Delta variant is ongoing.

Doctor Farhat Khanim, of the University of Birmingham, noted: “The development of new more infectious COVID-19 variants has results in the a rapid expansion in infection rates and deaths in several counties around the world, especially the UK, US and Europe.

“While vaccine programmes will hopefully reduce infection rates and virus spread in the longer term, there is still an urgent need to expand our arsenal of drugs to treat COVID-19 positive patients.”

Co-corresponding author Dr Alan Richardson, of Keele University, added: “Whilst in some countries vaccination programmes are progressing at speed, vaccine uptake rates are variable and for most low middle income countries, significant proportions of the population are unlikely to be vaccinated until 2022.

“Furthermore, whilst vaccination has been shown to reduce infection rates and severity of disease, we are as yet unsure of the strength and duration of the response. Therapies are still urgently needed to manage COVID-19 patients who develop symptoms or require hospitalisations.”

It comes as NHS providers have said its need an extra £600 million in Government funding to free up hospital beds ahead of what is predicted to be a ‘really difficult winter’.

The call for extra funding follows an initial £600 million the NHS was given for April until the end of September to fund the safe discharge of patients to avoid ‘bed blocking’.

Currently there has been no guidance over what will happen from October. 

Chris Hopson, Chief Executive NHS Providers, urged the Government to ‘help us look after our patients in the best way possible’ by making the ‘capacity that we know we’re going to need over what is going to be a very tough and difficult winter.”

Source: Read Full Article