$15 Treatment Gets COVID Patients Off Ventilators In A Week: Study
Fourteen out of 15 severe COVID-19 patients who were treated in an investigator-initiated interventional open-label clinical study of the drug TriCor (fenofibrate) didn’t require oxygen support within a week of treatment and were released from the hospital, according to the results of a new Hebrew University of Jerusalem study.
Photo Insert: The research underway at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.
Fenofibrate is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved oral medication. The results were published on Researchsquare.com and are currently under peer review. Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman reported for Jerusalem Post.
Fenofibrate was approved by the FDA back in 1975 for long-term use and is considered safe. Moreover, it is an inexpensive pill, and costs less than $1.50 a day, meaning the entire treatment per patient was around $15.
The team led by Hebrew University’s Prof. Yaakov Nahmias carried out the study at Israel’s Barzilai Medical Center in coordination with the hospital’s head of the Infectious Disease Unit, Prof. Shlomo Maayan, and with support from Abbott Laboratories.
The 15 treated patients all had pneumonia and required oxygen support. They were also older with multiple comorbidities, ranging from diabetes and obesity to high blood pressure. “Viruses are parasites,” Nahmias explained.
“They cannot replicate by themselves. They have to get inside a human cell and hijack their machinery to replicate.”
Working with collaborators in the United States, Nahmias demonstrated that the coronavirus prevents the burning of fat in lung cells, resulting in large amounts of fat accumulating inside lung cells – a condition the virus needs to reproduce. Fenofibrate, he hoped, would reverse that effect, and eliminate virus replication.
Nahmias has been studying the use of fenofibrate for treating COVID-19 almost since the start of the pandemic. He first ran a pre-clinical trial and then a multi-center retrospective study, both of which supported the effectiveness of the drug.
“By understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 controls our metabolism, we can wrestle back control from the virus and deprive it of the very resources it needs to survive,” Nahmias told the Post, noting that this also may help explain why patients with high blood sugar and cholesterol levels are often at a particularly high risk to develop COVID-19.
In addition to standard of care, the patients were given 145 mg/day of fenofibrate for 10 days. “The results were dramatic,” Nahmias told Jerusalem Post. “Progressive inflammation markers, which are the hallmark of deteriorative COVID-19, dropped within 48 hours of treatment.
Moreover, 14 of the 15 severe patients didn’t require oxygen support within a week of treatment.” The 15th patient was off oxygen within 10 days. When looking at the data on other similar severe patients, less than 30% of them on average are removed from oxygen support within a week.
In other words, fenofibrate could dramatically shorten the treatment time for severe COVID patients.