The initial results of an ongoing Greek study into the benefits of the anti-inflammatory agent colchicine in treating Covid-19 are “very encouraging,” according to the scientist heading the trial.
“The data we analyzed up until last night are very encouraging,” cardiologist and Athens Medical School professor Christodoulos Stefanadis told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) on Monday of the double-blind study, which has been carried out on 120 patients over the past two weeks, with half receiving the drug.
Some of these encouraging findings, according to Stefanadis, include a drop in levels of the C-reactive protein inflammation marker, in disease-fighting white blood cells called eosinophils and in troponin, which measures damage to the heart.
“All of this evidence appears to point to it being a very important drug for helping coronavirus patients who are at risk from catastrophic complications, like a shutdown of the heart or lungs,” Stefanadis said.
The study, he told the ANA-MPA, was initially designed to assess the potential benefits of colchicine on Covid-19 patients with underlying heart disease, though its apparent usefulness in fighting inflammations induced by the virus that severely damage the lungs has prompted the Greek team to also explore is preventive properties.
“What we know right now is that hospital patients taking colchicine are showing a statistically significant reduction in inflammation compared to those who are not, regardless of whether they have heart problems,” Stefanadis said.
“For years we have known that colchicine is a very cheap anti-inflammatory medicine that helps treat pericarditis,” he added, referring to the inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. “That is how the idea of studying in on coronavirus began.”
Stefanadis warned, however, that it is too soon to draw any definitive conclusions, adding that the Greek team’s findings will be sent to international medical journals to be peer-reviewed.
A similar trial with colchicine is also being carried out in Canada, Stefanadis noted, where approximately 6,000 patients are receiving either colchicine or a placebo drug for 30 days.