Antidepressant against corona disease
The preliminary evaluation of a study shows that an antidepressant could help against COVID-19. According to the researchers, fluvoxamine appears to prevent some of the disease’s most serious complications and make hospitalization and the need for artificial respiration less likely.
The number of infections with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to rise steeply. Despite intensive research, there is still no internationally approved active ingredient against the COVID-19 disease caused by the new pathogen. Researchers from the USA are now reporting in a study on an antidepressant that could help.
No serious clinical deterioration
The study by scientists from the Medical Faculty of Washington University in St. Louis included 152 patients who were infected with SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers compared the results of those who were treated with fluvoxamine at home with the results of those who were given an inactive placebo.
After 15 days, none or none of the 80 patients who had received the drug showed any serious clinical deterioration. In the meantime, six of the 72 infected people from the placebo group (8.3 percent) became seriously ill, and four had to be hospitalized.
The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released.
Prevent serious illness
“The patients who took fluvoxamine did not develop serious breathing difficulties and did not have to be hospitalized for problems with their lung function,” explains the first author of the paper, Dr. Eric J. Lenze, Professor of Psychiatry in One Message.
The expert points out that it is important not only to find therapies for the most seriously ill, but also treatments that prevent patients from becoming so sick that they have to be hospitalized or need additional oxygen. “Our study suggests that fluvoxamine can help fill that niche.”
Means for depression and anxiety disorders
Fluvoxamine is widely used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. The antidepressant belongs to the group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Unlike other SSRIs, fluvoxamine interacts strongly with a protein called the sigma-1 receptor. This receptor also helps regulate the body’s inflammatory response.
“There are several ways this drug could help COVID-19 patients, but we suspect it most likely interacts with the sigma-1 receptor to reduce the production of inflammatory molecules,” said senior author Angela M. Reiersen, Associate Professor of Psychiatry.
According to the researcher, the drug’s effects on inflammation could prevent the immune system from triggering an excessive response that occurs in some people with COVID-19, whose condition appears to improve after a few days of illness and then worsen. Many of these patients are hospitalized and some die.
The notice indicates that the study was carried out remotely. The study participants were given the drug or the inactive placebo along with thermometers, automatic blood pressure monitors and oxygen sensors.
“Our goal is to help patients who are initially well enough to stay at home and prevent them from getting so sick that they are hospitalized,” says Dr. Caline Mattar, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Infectious Diseases Department at Washington University School of Medicine. “What we’ve seen so far suggests that fluvoxamine can be an important tool in achieving this goal.”
Further research needed
For two weeks, the subjects took either the antidepressant or placebo sugar pills while interacting with members of the research team on a daily basis – by phone or computer. This enabled the patients to report on their symptoms, oxygen levels and other vital functions.
The condition was viewed as worsening if the sick suffered from shortness of breath or if they were hospitalized for pneumonia or if their oxygen saturation fell below 92 percent.
“The good news is that not a single person taking the active medication has seen any deterioration,” explains Reiersen. “We believe this drug may be the reason, but we need to study more patients to be sure.” The researchers will begin a larger study in the next few weeks. (ad)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by doctors.
- Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis: Fluvoxamine may prevent serious illness in COVID-19 patients, (Abruf: 15.11.2020), Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
- Lenze EJ, Mattar C, Zorumski CF, Stevens A, Schweiger J, Nicol GE, Miller JP, Yang L, Yingling M, Avidan MS, Reiersen AM: Fluvoxamine vs Placebo and Clinical Deterioration in Outpatients With Symptomatic COVID-19; in: Journal der American Medical Association, (veröffentlicht: 12.11.2020), Journal der American Medical Association
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.