The researchers revealed the drug blocks this process occurring and so increases survival from COVID-19. The research also suggested COVID-19 increases the activity of genes related to platelets, which can make the blood sticky and more likely to form clots. The drug baricitinib was shown to reduce the activity of the genes.
Professor Volker Lauschke, co-lead author from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, explained: “This study confirms what AI predicted, and what we were hearing from patient case reports. For instance one case involved an 87-year-old severely unwell patient from Foggia, Italy, who showed rapid improvement after being given the drug, whereas her husband and son, who did not receive baricitinib, died. This study has also shone a light on exactly how this drug may protect us at the cellular level. This helps us understand why other types of drugs are proving beneficial, or not beneficial, as we as help identify other treatments which may tackle COVID-19.”
Professor Stebbing added: “We have seen the top line results of a randomized study called the Adaptive Covid Treatment Trial-2 announced recently, showing benefits of baricitinib plus remdesevir, compared to remdesvir alone in over one thousand patients. Other very large trials occurring now include COV-BARRIER, and this will help create a fuller picture of the benefits and side effects of the oral medication (a small number of the patients in our study needed to stop the treatment due to problems with liver function). Further trials comparing baricitinib to other drugs in COVID-19 patients would also be helpful in improving outcomes.”