(1) Back in April, Mrs. Arbel alerted me to an item about a clinical trial for the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine (which I’ve been taking on and off for gout – side effect of a low-carb, high-protein diet). Now a team at Hadassah Hospital (the main teaching and research hospital of Hebrew U. of Jerusalem) believes it has figured out what causes the rogue blood clots associated with severe COVID-19.
Hadassah researchers discovered that the patients who form these fatal clots have an increased level of alpha defensin protein in their blood, explained[Israeli Arab] Dr. Abd Alrauf Higavi, who directs a lab at Hadassah and has been studying blood clots for 30 years.
“Patients with mild symptoms have a low concentration of alpha defensin,” he said. “Patients with strong disease symptoms have high levels. The people who die have very high levels.”
The Hadassah team studied more than 700 blood samples from 80 patients who were admitted to the medical center during the first peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel. The results show that alpha defensin speeds up blood clot formation, which can cause pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and stroke. In addition, when blood clots form in the alveoli, whose function it is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules to and from the bloodstream, this can lead to respiratory distress and eventually intubation.
And guess what they offer as the solution?
Colchicine is an approved drug used in the prevention and treatment of gout attacks, caused by too much uric acid in the blood.
Higavi said they have completed testing colchicine on mice and found that it successfully inhibited the release of alpha defensin. Now, they are waiting for the necessary approvals to test it on human coronavirus patients.
The researcher said that clinical trials would look at use of the drug both for severe cases and administering it to patients with mild or moderate symptoms to see if it will help decrease the chances of their developing a severe case of the disease.
“The drugs available today in the blood-thinning market do not fully address this clotting, since its mechanism differs from the mechanisms for which these drugs currently exist,” Higavi said. “Resources should be diverted to finding a suitable drug for coronavirus patients.”
(2) Miscellaneous updates:
Israeli artificial intelligence firm offering an early COVID-19 detection solution gets emergency authorization from the FDA.
De Standaard reports that Janssen Pharmaceutica, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is recruiting 500 volunteers for a phase 1 trial and will later look for an infested area to carry out a 20,000 subject trial (half vaccinated, half placebo).
In the US Senate, McCaul Report “Chinese cover-up turned local epidemic into global pandemic”.
European Commission wants to forestall “bargain-hunting” takeovers of distressed companies by Chinese state-backed investors, reports De Standaard (in Dutch).