MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WMC) – Scientists in St. Jude may have figured out how COVID-19 kills and, more importantly, how to stop it.
The virus has already claimed 250,000 lives in the United States and more than a million worldwide. This week, researchers in St. Jude announced they believe they’ve discovered a cure.
Anyone with allergies, histamine intolerance, rheumatoid arthritis, or a weakened immune system knows what it’s like to have problems with inflammation. The swelling and pain make it difficult to breathe or move around. The same is happening with COVID-19.
This virus triggers severe inflammation that paralyzes the lungs and damages other organs. Researchers in St. Jude say they have identified the mechanisms that lead to the inflammation of COVID-19 and the drugs that can treat it.
The team focused on cytokines, small proteins released in the body in response to inflammation. They focused on the highest cytokines in COVID-19 patients and found a duo that stood out.
It turns out that the drugs to treat these cytokine reactions, or cytokine storms, already exist.
When tried on mice, the drug protected them from death from COVID-19 and sepsis, a deadly blood infection.
“I’ve never been so excited in my entire career,” St. Jude researcher Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D, told WMC Action News 5, “because it can save lives. The other studies that we have in our lab can go into textbooks, and in the long run, they could be done in the clinic. But this immediate application is the best thing. I wish that from tomorrow we can treat patients with this.
So now these drugs will be used in clinical trials on COVID-19 patients. If that goes well, FDA approval is the next step.
Seeking this treatment can also benefit those who suffer from autoinflammatory diseases. This work was made possible through grants from ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude, and the National Institutes of Health.
St. Jude’s results have been peer reviewed and published in the scientific journal: https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)31542-7
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