80 patients in intensive-care departments in the Capital Region of Denmark were included in the trial: half received the medicine, while the other half – the control group – received normal saline.
Patients who received three days’ treatment with prostacyclin had overall significantly less damage to their vital organs during their stay in the intensive-care department.
And, mortality was halved from 44% for the control group to 22% for the group receiving prostacyclin. The results for mortality are not, however, statistically significant, as this was a study of limited size.
“We found that the patients who had received prostacyclin overall had better organ function and better chances of survival.
There are still many Covid-19 patients at intensive care departments around the world and we are very pleased that now it seems there’s possibly a better treatment option,” said Pr Johansson.
Prostacyclin has been in use since the 1980s to treat high blood pressure in the pulmonary. Professor Pr Johansson has shown that in low doses it may have a beneficial effect on endothelial cells in critically ill patients in intensive care departments.
When the endothelial cells in capillaries are damaged, micro blood clots occur that limit oxygen availability in the vital organs and cause serious damage to the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys.
It seems that this process can be reversed by treating patients with prostacyclin,” explained Professor Pr Johansson.
Patients are examined for signs of damage to the endothelial cells via a test for a specific biomarker, entitled soluble thrombomodulin. The test was developed by the Danish company BioPorto Diagnostics AS.
“It is important to examine whether the same effect can also be seen when a larger number of patients are investigated,” stresses Professor Pr I. Johansson.
The research group behind the study is currently conducting a larger study focusing on the effect of prostacyclin on organ failure in patients with septic shock and severe endotheliopathy. If COVID-19 patients match the criteria for participating, they may be included in this study.
The study was supported with DKK 3 million from Innovation Fund Denmark’s Grand Solutions – COVID-19.