A study involving doctors and 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.
The study was done by doctors of the Amrita Hospital, Kochi, and scientists from the School of Biotechnology at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
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 treatment without iNO.
Speaking on the idea behind conducting trials with this novel treatment, Bipin Nair, Dean, Life Sciences at Amrita School of Biotechnology, said their 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,” said Nair.
The team of experts at Amrita Hospital 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.
This approach to repurpose Nitric Oxide has the potential to be an effective preventative, especially in light of the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant prevalent today.
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,” said Kumar.
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.