Yale study focuses on high risk COVID-19 patients


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – There are a number of studies underway at Yale School of Medicine.

This one could benefit COVID-19 patients coping with the most deadly respiratory effects of the virus.

COVID-19 attacks the lungs. Patients, who are infected with the virus, particularly those older, are at high risk of developing the potentially fatal condition Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. It is linked to scarring of the lungs or lung fibrosis.

“I am not aware of a drug that is aiming to protect actually the lining of the lung,” says pulmonologist Dr. Naftali Kaminski, a physician scientist at Yale School of Medicine.

He is hopeful that by resurrecting a thyroid hormone drug called sobetirome that he and his team developed years ago, could be effective against the deadly complications of COVID.

“We found a signal, that thyroid hormone may protect a lung, that it prevents lung injury.”

Animal studies showed significant promise.

“We think that our drug could be effective to reduce lung fibrosis but we only have data in mice.”  

Now the push is on for FDA approval to begin human clinical trials.

 “The drug has been manufactured, we just need to formulate it.”

Preventing possible lifelong effects of being on a ventilator.

“People on a ventilator will have a hard time going back to normal life.  They’ll have a hard time with physical activity.  They need rehabilitation. Their muscles get weaker and sometimes have a hard time with their breathing, and there may be long term psychological implications.”

Dr. Kaminski is optimistic that it could be a game changer.  

“If we could prevent the progression of lung injury to the severe form, we would have both reduce the number of patients needing to be on a ventilator, potentially save lives, and also prevent the long term complications of mechanical ventilation.”     

Dr. Kaminski and his team are partnering with researchers in Greece. They are still seeking funding.

If everything goes as planned, Dr. Kaminski says clinical trials could begin within a month.

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