Updated: 11/19/2020 – 9:44 am
Prevents cytokine storm
This antidepressant protects against a severe corona course
In the case of severe Covid 19 courses, one complication is feared above all: the so-called cytokine storm, the excessive immune reaction. Researchers have now found that an already available drug for depression can actually protect against it.
In the fight against the coronavirus, researchers are trying not only to find vaccines but also drugs that can alleviate or prevent severe courses of the multi-organ disease. Research is not only done on new drugs. Known drugs are also tested – and some actually promise success. The advantage: They are already known – including their side effects – and available and can often be easily and quickly produced on a large scale. One example is remdesivir. But even drugs whose actual purpose for us laypeople has nothing to do with a viral disease can show success in treatment: For example, researchers have now found that one is often prescribed Antidepressant mitigate the severe consequences of Covid-19 can.
Fluvoxamine: Antidepressant prevents severe coronavirus
Fluvoxamine is mostly known to people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, an obsessive-compulsive disorder or a psychosis. The drug belongs to the antidepressants, more precisely to the group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
Due to its mode of action, fluvoxamine can do more: Researchers have found out on the basis of a study that the drug can help prevent an overreaction of the immune system: against the so-called cytokine storm. This serious complication, which in some Covid 19 patients leads to an extremely severe course of the disease, derails the immune system and releases cytokines unchecked, which cause severe inflammatory reactions throughout the body – both in the lungs and in other organs. A cytokine storm can also occur in other infectious and non-infectious diseases, such as influenza or sepsis. However, there are more cases of Covid-19.
How does the antidepressant protect against it? Fluvoxamine increases the effect of the so-called sigma-1 receptor in cells, which is involved in regulating the cellular stress response. This stress response is generally considered to be the trigger for a cytokine storm, but it has hardly been studied to date. However, based on an animal study from 2019, it was already known that fluvoxamine can even stop such a stress response. This protected the mice from the animal experiment last year from sepsis. Now the remedy seems to protect people from a cytokine storm and thus from a severe course.
None of the fluvoxamine patients suffered severe disease
A total of 152 patients with confirmed corona infection took part in the study by Eric Lenze and his team at the Washington University School of Medicine between April and August. All had already suffered from mild symptoms, but their oxygen saturation was still in the normal range at 96 to 98 percent.
The participants were given either 100 mg fluvoxamine or a placebo up to three times a day. Even after 15 days, none of the 80 fluvoxamine patients showed any serious clinical deterioration. Six of the remaining 72 placebo patients, however, became seriously ill, four of them had to be treated in hospital.
Background information: Covid-19 causes blood clots in patients: that seems to be the reason
Fluvoxamine could fill a gap in drug research
Lenze summarized in a communication from the university: “The patients who took fluvoxamine did not develop serious breathing difficulties or had to be hospitalized because of problems with their lung function.
This is particularly good news because the antidepressant could finally be a drug that has a niche in research around the Coronavirus fills: So far, according to Lenze, researchers have mainly dealt with drugs that are supposed to help the already seriously ill Covid-19 patients. But it is also important to find therapies that prevent patients from getting “so sick that they need additional oxygen or have to be hospitalized. Our study suggests that fluvoxamine can help fill this niche,” concludes the first author of the Study.
The results now have to be checked further. There should be a nationwide, larger study in Missouri and in the USA.
Important: If you are taking fluvoxamine due to anesthesia or you know someone who takes it, please do not just take such high doses of the drug now. This is a first small study. Medication doses prescribed by a doctor should never be changed just like that – this applies to all medications!
In particular, caution should be exercised with antidepressants. It can of course also lead to side effects: Common side effects of fluvoxamine are weight loss, nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbances, restlessness, rapid heartbeat and dry mouth. In addition, the active ingredient should not be taken together with medicines from the group of active ingredients called MAO inhibitors. In addition, all SSRIs carry the risk of an increased suicidal tendency in people with depression!
Here, too, caution is advised – for medical professionals, however, this news is a step forward: