Australian clot-busting drug holds hope for coronavirus treatment

A patient in a Covid-19 ward at Westmead Hospital in Sydney on May 12, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - An experimental drug developed by an Australian researcher could help prevent deaths from Covid-19 by controlling the formation of blood clots responsible for breathing difficulties, organ failure, stroke and heart attack.

Professor Shaun Jackson from the University of Sydney and the Heart Research Institute is leading a team of researchers developing a new anti-clotting medicine to treat stroke.

About three in four of critical Covid-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) develop clots with their recovery rate critically low, Prof Jackson said. Covid-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

"If our medicine can control these clots, then organ failure and death in many thousands of cases could be avoided. We want Covid-19 patients reaching for the tissue box, not hooked up to ventilators," Prof Jackson said.

Following successful phase one trials in 72 healthy patients, the researchers now want to urgently move into phase two trials by testing the effectiveness and safety of the drug in critically ill Covid-19 patients.

"It could then be a matter of months before doctors around the world can use the novel anti-clotting drug to protect patients with Covid-19, potentially saving thousands of lives," Prof Jackson said.

More than 7.53 million people have been reported infected with the novel coronavirus around the world and 420,808 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 0504 GMT on Friday (June 12).

Australia reported about 7,300 cases and 102 deaths with some parts of the country now claiming to have eliminated the virus.

Prof Jackson said phase two trials of the drug, which is administered intravenously, will need to be done overseas because there were not enough severely ill patients on ventilators in Australia.

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