Until Covid-19 vaccine arrives, nitric oxide can cure patients, save lives |...

Until Covid-19 vaccine arrives, nitric oxide can cure patients, save lives | Study

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Until Covid-19 vaccine arrives, nitric oxide can cure patients, save lives | Study


A recent study has found that nitric oxide, a cell-signaling molecule that the body produces naturally, could be a potential treatment for coronavirus infection until a vaccine arrives.

Coronavirus vaccine update

Prevention is the best strategy to fight Covid-19, a pandemic caused by a coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. The world is waiting with baited breath for a clinically approved vaccine.

There is no specific medicine or drug formula that checks the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The only antiviral treatment currently approved is giving doses of remdesivir to Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalisation.

Remdesivir was originally developed for treatment of Ebola, another virus-generated infectious illness. It was understood to shorten the recovery time of hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now said remdesivir neither shortens the stay of Covid-19 patients in hospital nor reduces the mortality among those infected by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

This is discouraging news for the world, which is finding it difficult to get beyond this debilitating virus. However, a recent study has found a new solution that can be as effective as an antiviral treatment for Covid-19.

THE RESEARCH
The study has concluded that nitric oxide, a cell-signaling molecule that the body produces naturally, could be a potential treatment for Covid-19 by giving relief to patients and even containing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Nitric oxide is an oxide of nitrogen — not to be confused with another oxide of nitrogen, nitrous oxide which has a role to play in global warming.

The nitric oxide molecule is a vasodilator — that is, it dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow — and thus has anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Additionally, nitric oxide has antiviral properties. A study, conducted in Sweden, has now found direct evidence that nitric oxide inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2. The scientists conducted an in-vitro study using monkey cell cultures to arrive at the conclusion.

The scientists found that nitric oxide inhibited a key enzyme called a protease that the virus SARS-CoV-2 needs to make copies of itself.

COVID-19 TREATMENT HOPE
On the basis of their findings, the scientists have theorised that inhaling nitric oxide gas can improve the outlook for patients with severe Covid-19.

The scientists write in their paper, “Based on this study and previous studies on SARS-CoV in vitro, and in a small clinical trial, we conclude that [nitric oxide] may be applied for clinical use in the treatment of COVID-19 and other human coronavirus infections.”

Their prescription is backed by earlier research. A 2005 study found that nitric oxide inhibited the replication of SARS-CoV, the virus that caused worldwide panic in 2002-03. SARS-CoV is very similar to SARS-CoV-2 and is also the reason why the current pandemic-causing virus is named so.

SARS-CoV had caused an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is similar to Covid-19.

In past, studies had shown nitric oxide to be effective against a range of viruses including the herpes virus, hantavirus, and coxsackievirus (an enterovirus that causes “hand foot and mouth disease”).

In the case of SARS, another study had found that inhaling nitric oxide at low concentrations improved oxygenation of blood in patients suffering from the infections. It also proved to be an effective antiviral agent.

Covid-19 patients, who develop serious complications, complain of a sudden decline in oxygen levels in their blood. It is against this backdrop that the researchers have suggested inhalation of nitric oxide as an effective form of treatment for Covid-19 and a big hope to fight the coronavirus pandemic. That is, until the world gets a proven vaccine.