New therapy could protect lung function in COVID-19 and flu patients

[Image courtesy of CDC]

One of the most dangerous aspects of the novel coronavirus is its potential to cause pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Pandemic influenza A (H1N1) can cause similar problems.

A team of researchers at Ohio State University has developed a potential treatment for ARDS stemming from COVID-19 or influenza.

The inspiration for the therapy, which they tested in mice, resulted in an observation that influenza-infected mice had lower levels of liponucleotides, which are involved in the production of surfactant in the lungs. Pulmonary surfactants support normal lung function, preventing them from partially or fully collapsing.

The researchers administered liponucleotides to influenza-infected mice via both injection and orally. Their blood oxygen levels returned to normal while inflammation decreased.

“The most important and impressive thing in this …

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When can computer models replace animal trials?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The pandemic has forced a rethink of clinical research, but the pharma industry continues to rely on animal testing. While pundits have observed that computer modeling and techniques such as microdosing can reduce animal testing, animal testing continues to be integral in preclinical studies. 

But computer models are now sufficiently accurate to predict the response of many drugs, said David Harel, CEO of CytoReason (Tel Aviv, Israel). “We are getting to the point that computer models of certain diseases can generate better predictions than animal models,” he said. 

But there are caveats. It could take longer to move from animal-based safety testing, which often involve rodents. Such animal trials tend to be limited in size. “They’re not a big burden. And they’re not super expensive,” Harel said. And regulators frequently consider animal data when evaluating drug safety. But …

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