Science

Anti-cancer drug may significantly improve Covid-19 severity

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 07, 2021

Representative image   -  Bloomberg

A small clinical study in Italy and China has revealed that an anticancer drug -- bevacizumab -- could help mitigate mortality and boost recovery from the novel coronavirus.

The study was carried out by the researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. This was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The study suggested that on average, blood oxygen levels, body temperature, and inflammatory markers significantly improved in patients who were administered a single dose of bevacizumab.

Yihai Cao, corresponding author, Professor of Vascular Biology, Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet said, “To reduce Covid-19 mortality, we aim to develop an effective therapeutic paradigm for treating patients with severe Covid-19.”

He added, “Our findings suggest that bevacizumab plus standard care is highly beneficial for patients with severe Covid-19 and should be considered as a potential first-line therapeutic regimen for this group."

The medication has been in use since 2004. It works by slowing the formation of new blood vessels by inhibiting a growth factor known as VEGF.

The researchers have seen elevated levels of VEGF in patients with severe Covid-19.

Methodology

The researchers employed 26 patients from two hospitals in China and Italy between mid-February and early April in 2020. The patients had confirmed Covid-19 and symptoms such as difficulty breathing, low blood oxygen levels and pneumonia.

They were retrospectively matched with 26 patients of similar characteristics who served as the control group.

The recruits received standard care plus a single low dose of about 7.5 mg/kg bevacizumab, which markedly improved blood oxygen levels within 24 hours compared to the control group.

Findings

The findings revealed that by the end of the 28-day follow-up period, 92 per cent of the bevacizumab-treated patients no longer needed the same level of oxygen support as before the trial began, compared with an improvement rate of 62 per cent for the controls.

Bevacizumab also shortened the duration of oxygen-support to a median of nine days compared with 20 for the standard care group.

Published on February 07, 2021

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