Best Life: New drug aims to improve oxygen levels of COVID-19 patients

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:41 AM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — COVID-19 patients whose lungs have been damaged by the virus have needed mechanical ventilation and many patients who have been placed on ventilators have not survived. Now, researchers are testing a new drug delivery system designed to improve the oxygen levels of the sickest patients.

More than 31 million Americans have become sick with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and in that time, pulmonologists have learned much more about how the virus attacks the lungs.

“We recognized that COVID did the same thing that pulmonary hypertension does to the blood vessels of the lungs. It causes a dropout of these pulmonary vessels, so that the conduits to which the body delivers blood to the lungs to get oxygen— were disappearing,” explained Raymond Benza, MD, of The Ohio State University Medical Center.

Now, researchers at Ohio State are testing a new way to deliver medication directly to the damaged blood vessels. The VentaProst system works along with a mechanical ventilator to generate and deliver small droplets of an inhaled medication.

“It involves an even distribution of this drug, which is called epoprostenol, to the affected areas of the blood vessels,” Dr. Benza described.

Doctors say this method of directly delivering the drug helps open up the blood vessels, improves oxygenation, and reduces strain on the heart. With VentaProst, doctors are hopeful they can improve outcomes for the sickest COVID-19 patients.

Patients in the trial will receive ten days of treatment to see if it reduces circulatory and respiratory failure. The researchers will then follow the patients for four weeks to see if the treatment reduces time on the ventilator, or in the hospital ICU.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.