Researchers say more time, data will determine if nitric oxide therapy is effective against COVID-19
SHREVEPORT - Researchers say there is still a long way to go in finding effective therapy treatments for COVID-19 patients, but say some initial findings could be promising.
Two new clinical trials are up and running at the LSU Health Center in Shreveport, and have been since early April.
LSU Health was among the first medical centers in the country to enroll patients in an international study testing the effects of nitric oxide for patients with coronavirus.
Doctors, like Keith Scott, want to make sure therapies like these have been properly tested before determining if they’re truly effective. He says that doing so in a short amount of time has not been an easy task.
“Some may look good now, won’t look good tomorrow. So we have to be very careful how we approach these things,” Scott said.
For almost two weeks now, a handful of patients have been part of a clinical trial at LSU Health. There, researchers are testing the therapeutic effects of a gas, known as nitric oxide, against COVID-19 symptoms in patients.
Scott, who’s heading up the trails, says that patients, who have been inhaling the colorless, odorless gas, daily, have had some initial successes.
“We know it improves oxygen, oxidation. It really seems to improve that. The rest, as far as mitigating the virus, we don’t know yet,” Scott said.
Nitric oxide is already used for treating newborns with cardiovascular issues, and the gas is FDA approved.
LSU Health along with five other medical facilities from across the U.S. and the world are testing if the gas can similarly help virus patients to get off and stay off of ventilators that assist with breathing.
Scott says that doctors wanted to first make sure that the gas was safe for those with the virus.
“The apparent wisdom right now is it’s not harmful. What we have to answers is, is it helpful? And that’s the big question. Like I said, the biology makes sense. Everything makes sense. But we have to really prove because I can’t in good conscious give someone something that I think works. I have to give someone something I know works,” Scott said.
Scott says researchers are looking at when and how much of the gas treatment should be given over the lifetime of the virus in the patient.
They’re also looking at how it can be coupled with other treatments, like plasma donation therapy, which is also being tested at LSU Health.
“We know a lot of these things work, we just don’t know when they work the best. And that’s what we’re trying to figure out really right now is when, how much and where. And that’s the confusing part of this whole disease. It’s nothing like we’ve ever seen, nothing like medicine has ever seen,” Scott said.
The burden of finding one possible solution is something that Scott and his colleagues do not take lightly. He knows that it’s not what people want to hear, but only more time will tell if treatments, like nitric oxide therapy, can help relieve severe inflammation of the lungs, among other complications, caused by coronavirus.
“That’s what people have to understand. This is not something we’ve known, like the flu. Flu we’ve known. We known flu. We know its ups and downs. It’s bad, good. This is nothing like that. And so people have to be patient with us researchers that are just trying to figure out what works on day one may not work on day twenty. And what works on day twenty may not work on day one. And those are things we’re really trying to figure out,” Scott said.
The first interim analysis of the nitric oxide clinical trials will be taking place later this week.
Researchers from all medical centers involved will share their findings as they look to improve these potential medical therapies.