Coronavirus: Blood clots targeted in treatment trial

Henrietta Strickland
June 17, 2020

The researchers say the drug, a molecule known as TRV027, could put a brake on numerous risky processes which occur in Covid-19, such as lung damage and blood clots.

By restoring the balance, experts hope to be able to control the virus's ability to cause damage to the body.

Researchers said it is important to move away from thinking of the coronavirus as only a lung disease because it also affects the heart and blood vessels.

Medics have suggested that up to a third of patients who are seriously ill with coronavirus are developing unsafe blood clots, which is one reason why people are dying.

"As part of the BHF's contribution to the fight against Covid-19, we have given the green light for researchers at our centres of research excellence to mobilise behind research that could lead to improved treatments for people suffering from the virus". "This project has brought together pathologists, virologists, pharmacologists, and researchers who usually focus on the heart and circulatory diseases", said Dr. David Owen, Senior Clinical Research Fellow and Clinical Pharmacologist at Imperial College London.

Because COVID-19 is such a complex disease that affects numerous body's systems, this treatment could be used in combination with other drugs, says Dr. Kat Pollock, a joint study lead.

Clots are risky because they can damage the tissue around them and also break off, travelling to the brain or heart to trigger a stroke or heart attack.

Half of the patients will be given TRV027, and half the patients will be given a placebo.

Professor Arya said he thinks rates of blood clots among people who are severely ill with Covid-19 could be 30 per cent or higher.

When there is no balance, the blood can become viscous, presenting a risk of blood clots.

Blood thinners, which are usually used to prevent or shrink clots, are risky in high doses because they can lead to uncontrollable bleeding in the event of an injury. A TUC report shows that low pay and job insecurity are "rife" in both sectors - with security staff said to have the highest death rate of any profession. It has been tested as a heart failure treatment and was declared safe. If it shows promise, larger trials with about 6,000 people would be set up later this year.

Remdesivir, a virus-destroying medication made to tackle Ebola, has been approved for use on the NHS but studies are still not conclusive.

The trial, funded by the British Heart Foundation, will test the theory the clots are caused by a hormone imbalance triggered by coronavirus infection.

This is usually done by a body part called an ACE-2 receptor, which is a tiny protein that the coronavirus latches on to in order to infect the body.

Researches say the CCP virus impacts two hormones-angiotensin II and angiotensin 1-7-and the balance between these two affects the blood vessels and blood pressure.

In Covid-19, it is thought the balance tips towards too much angiotensin II which makes the blood become more sticky, leading to clots throughout the body, and in particular the lungs.

According to the British Heart Foundation, who are funding the trial supported by their Centre of Research at Imperial College London, the drug (a molecule known as TRV027) targets cell pathways which are "thought to be major drivers of severe illness in COVID-19".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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