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The treatment under research is anti-inflammatory medication Tocilizumab, which was originally created as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. According to doctors the drug could stop the immune system “storm” that has killed thousands of COVID-19 patients.
Doctors suggested the treatment can halt the hyper-inflammation that coronavirus patients suffer when they get infected.
If the trials are successful, the treatment could potentially save lives which would otherwise be lost to the aggressive immune response rather than the pathogen itself.
It would also become the second treatment proven to save lives from the disease.
So far the only medication that can prevent deaths from COVID-19 is the steroid dexamethasone.
Scientists believe a range of coronavirus drugs are necessary to boost the response, meaning doctors would be able to use the treatments against specific issues.
The trial involved 450 virus patients around the world.
Doctors hope the results of the trials with he drug, made by Swiss drugs giant Roche, will be favourable.
Dr Taryn Youngstein, of Imperial College London, who worked on the trial, said: “It’s very clear that the major form of Covid that kills people is related to the body’s response to the virus – rather than the virus itself.
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“We need to think about how we can suppress this response.”
Tocilizumab has also been proved to decrease the risk for cancer patients undergoing dangerous “T-cell” treatment.
Dr Youngstein added: “We are very familiar with the drug.
“We know it’s very safe and very well-tolerated. The question is whether it works in Covid-19.”
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A previous study by Italian researchers found it might cause a drop in deaths of up to 39 percent.
However, this study’s results are inconclusive as there was no randomised control trial for it.
It comes as a survey published by Cancer Research UK revealed that one in three cancer patients said their treatment has been impacted by the effects of coronavirus on the health system.
The study, published to the Cancer Research UK website, reads: “This equates to hundreds of thousands of people experiencing cancellations, delays and changes to their treatment across the UK.
“Since lockdown began 18 weeks ago, we estimate that around 38,000 fewer treatments have taken place – adding to a growing backlog.
“Around 4 in 10 people (42 percent) also said their tests – including those to find out whether their cancer had spread or returned – had been affected, according to the survey of 1,900 cancer patients carried out in May.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive said: “COVID-19 has undoubtedly put a huge strain on people affected by cancer and has had an extraordinary impact on their care and wellbeing.
“We’ve been hearing many of these stories over the past few months.”
Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “I’ve had some difficult conversations with patients throughout the pandemic to explain adjustments to their treatment plans.
“It has been a stressful and lonely time for many patients, worried about coming to hospital for fear of catching the virus or having their treatment delayed or altered.”
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