In a study involving doctors from the Amrita Hospital, Kochi, and scientists from the School of Biotechnology at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a novel intervention for Covid-19 has been explored with Nitric Oxide (NO). This gas has for many years been used worldwide for the treatment of medical conditions like the Blue Baby Syndrome and for the treatment of heart or lung transplant patients. The study conducted by Amrita scientists has found that inhaled Nitric Oxide (iNO) is virucidal and kills the SARS-COV-2 virus, apart from preventing its effective attachment to human host cells.
In the feasibility trial conducted at Amrita Hospital, Covid-19 patients who received the iNO therapy recovered faster with lesser complications and zero mortality rates compared to patients who received the standard Covid-19 treatment without iNO.
According to Prof Bipin Nair, Dean, Life Sciences at Amrita School of Biotechnology, “our interest in looking at Nitric Oxide as a treatment option for Covid-19 stemmed from an early study conducted by a Swedish group which had suggested that the gas can prove effective in curbing the SARS-COV-2 virus, as it induces biochemical changes which directly affect the spike protein of the virus. This protein is the main culprit in interacting with our body’s receptors and immune system and creating havoc.”
The team of experts at Amrita Hospital headed by Dr. Aveek Jayant, Dr Dipu T.S and Dr. Merlin Moni, decided to conduct this trial on a small group of Covid patients admitted at Amrita Hospital. Out of the 25 patients selected for the study, 14 were given iNO along with standard treatment for Covid-19, while 11 patients were in the Control standard treatment group. The patients treated with iNO showed a significant drop in their viral load. According to these doctors at the Amrita Hospital.
This approach to repurposing Nitric Oxide has the potential to be an effective preventative, especially in light of the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant prevalent today.
Dr Geetha Kumar of the Amrita School of Biotechnology said, “as the global search for an effective remedy against Covid continues, this strategy to use Nitric Oxide as a therapeutic measure has the scope to be a successful, rapid and affordable game-changer in the fight against the pandemic. It is conceivable that healthcare workers, who are constantly exposed to the coronavirus, could also use this as a prophylactic while treating infected patients.”
The study by Amrita Hospital successfully demonstrates the putative role of repurposed inhaled Nitric Oxide in hypoxemic Covid-19 patients. The expert panel associated with the study now calls for an extended validation to take this treatment process to the next level.