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Coronavirus: Tocilizumab drug may help fight severe Covid-19 cases, study finds

News Agencies | Updated on: 30 April 2020, 16:55 IST

An antibody treatment, using the drug tocilizumab, may be represented as an effective option in severe coronavirus cases, according to a preliminary report by Xiaoling Xu et al, published in PNAS.

Tocilizumab-- as a recombinant humanized anti-human IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, has shown benefits 'clinically' in patients who had contracted the coronavirus disease.

Severe COVID-19 cases are associated with activation of large numbers of T lymphocytes and inflammatory monocytes and elevated levels of cytokines, particularly interleukin-6 (IL-6).

In this study, researchers Haiming Wei, Xiaoling Xu, and colleagues examined the effects of treating 21 severe or critical COVID-19 patients, aged between 25-88 years, in Anhui Province, China.

The team observed tocilizumab in the treatment of 21 patients with COVID-19, who prior to the treatment were presented with fever and lung lesions.

17 patients had abnormally low lymphocyte percentages and 20 patients had elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. All but one patient received oxygen therapy prior to treatment.

All patients' body temperatures returned to normal on the first day after receiving tocilizumab and remained stable thereafter.

Within five days of treatment, 15 patients were able to reduce their oxygen intake, and lymphocyte percentages and CRP had returned to normal in 10 and 16 patients, respectively.

Lung lesions were absorbed in 19 patients after treatment. All patients were discharged between 10 and 31 days after treatment, and no adverse reactions to treatment were reported.

Although the results are preliminary, clinical data showed that the symptoms, hypoxygenmia, and CT opacity changes were improved immediately after the treatment with tocilizumab in most of the patients, suggesting that tocilizumab could be an efficient therapy for the treatment of COVID-19.


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First published: 30 April 2020, 16:55 IST