The quest to find "the drug" to conquer COVID-19 continues.
No vaccine has been approved for the virus yet, and realistically, it could be awhile before a vaccine is widely available. That’s why researchers around the world are on a mission to find other means of treating COVID-19.
One way is by taking a second look at medications already available that could successfully help people sooner before a vaccine is found.
Fortunately, numerous clinical trials have either started or will be starting research on various medications, many of them commonly used for years and already FDA-approved.
One of the latest players in this search is the inexpensive medication used to treat parasitic infections called Ivermectin. Beginning in June, the prestigious Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins will launch a year-long randomized, open-label clinical study.
This study will investigate Ivermectin’s possibility of treating coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 requiring in-patient hospitalization will be randomized to either receive Ivermectin or the drug Bicalutamide, an anti-androgen used to treat prostate cancer.
The study will determine which medication — Ivermectin or Bicalutamide — shows clinical improvement and at what dosage in patients at day 7 of post randomization.
Ivermectin’s Past and Present History with Viruses
Widely used for decades since the 1970s and seen as a safe drug, Ivermectin was first used as a medication for veterinary use. However, doctors have used it as an anti-parasitic medication to treat infection in the body caused by certain parasites. Ivermectin has also been shown to be effective in laboratory settings in other viruses such as HIV, Dengue, Influenza, and Zika virus.
What sparked the interest in Ivermectin as a possible drug for eliminating COVID-19 came from a study in Australia which found that a single dose of this drug, in a laboratory setting, could kill the virus within 48 hours.
The research was conducted by taking cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then exposed them to Ivermectin. Within 48 hours, a single dose of Ivermectin killed COVID-19 in a petri dish. Even after only 24 hours, there was a significant reduction in the virus.
The researchers with this study were not able to definitively confirm Ivermectin’s mechanism of action but it’s believed to target a key molecule in cells that helps the virus to multiply by stopping this action. When this action is stopped, the virus has more difficulty replicating allowing our immune system a better chance of fighting off the virus.
The Next Step of Ivermectin’s Fight Against COVID-19
While the findings so far in vitro of Ivermectin have been encouraging, until the same promising results are shown in human trials, we have to remain cautiously optimistic.
The Johns Hopkins study will be an important step in determining the effectiveness of this medication in humans with COVID-19.
The design of this study is to place patients into two groups. One group will be given 150 mg of Bicalutamide orally for seven days along with the standard care of COVID-19.
The second group will be given up to a maximum dose of 60 mg orally of Ivermectin each day for three days. Patients in the second group receiving Ivermectin who are still hospitalized after the three days, may have an extension to six days if approved by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board.
It was not disclosed as to why researchers with the study chose Bicalutamide to be given for seven days and Ivermectin for three days. It is also unclear why Bicalutamide, a prostate cancer drug, is being studied along with Ivermectin.
One possibility could be why a VA study will also begin research on a prostate cancer drug called Degarelix for possibly treating COVID-19. Bicalutamide and Degarelix both block the male hormone, testosterone, from reaching cancerous prostate cells. Research has suggested that testosterone may be triggering the production of a protein called TMPRSS2 on lung tissue. This protein is believed to be what COVID-19 uses to invade lung tissue.
The use of Ivermectin along with doxycycline, an antibiotic, also reportedly had excellent success in treating patients with COVID-19 in a study from Bangladesh. This study found that the combination of the two drugs was administered to 60 patients, all of whom experienced full recoveries within four days. Ivermectin was able to effectively fight against the virus by preventing it from excreting its larvae once inside the body.
Much Work to Be Done
Despite our frustrations with this virus, research is what will win the day.
Without research, none of us would enjoy or benefit from the high quality medical care we have. The past and present tireless efforts of scientists have saved countless lives from many once life-threatening diseases we no longer have to fight off.
In our current global pandemic, we must remain vigilant.
There is still much work to be done on snuffing out COVID-19. However, I firmly believe we will unravel the code to crack COVID-19 once and for all, even if it does take some time.
It’s exciting to watch and see how medical research will make significant headway in advancing our fight against this virus. If Ivermectin is one part of that puzzle, I wholeheartedly welcome it. Only time will tell what eventually conquers COVID-19 for good.
Dr. David Samadi is Director of Men's Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He is a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City. He is regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., trained in oncology, open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgery. He has vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Read Dr. David Samadi's Reports – More Here.
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