It definitely doesn’t work if you take the substance as pills, though
The University of Groningen and the UMCG are working on a drug against the Coronavirus, using the controversial Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. What makes the work in Groningen unique, though, is its method of delivery as a ‘puff’ from an inhaler.
The US President Donald Trump was already taking the substance, known to be harmful in large quantities and for those in poor health. Later, the WHO stopped an investigation into the drug because it found that it could generally be harmful. All the while, researchers at the University of Groningen and the UMCG continued to work on a ‘puff’ of hydroxychloroquine, which now looks likely to work, reports the GIC.
In mid-March, researchers Paul Hagedoorn and Erik Frijlink presented their first findings regarding the possible effects of hydroxychloroquine as a (preventive) drug against the Coronavirus. The researchers at that time saw no benefit in swallowing pills (as Trump did for a while), but did see promising results from inhalation. Delivering the drug this was means that it can reach all the way to the lungs, though the method was still quite a challenge for researchers: “as if you have to shrink a grain of sugar 25 million times,” they said.
The researchers are now one step further, with the ‘puff’ of hydroxychloroquine is ready for the first tests. If a medical ethics committee agrees, the first healthy volunteers will test the method. If that goes well, then patients suffering from the Coronavirus will follow.
Until now, hydroxychloroquine has mainly been taken as a pill. According to the researchers at the RUG and the UMCG, only a small part of the active substance ends up in the right place. Tablets contain 400 to 800 milligrams of the active substance. However, it also causes side effects such as hallucinations and heart complaints.
The puff only gives off 20 milligrams, but the active substance does get into the lungs more easily. Ultimately, hydroxychloroquine makes the virus less likely to reproduce. It also attacks the interaction between ACE2 receptors and the virus. In addition, it inhibits the immune system’s stressed response to the virus, which could make patients less ill. The advantage of the small dose is that there are also fewer side effects.
The researchers see their medicine mainly as a preventative, because then the effect would be the best. Doctors previously said that the drug does little for seriously ill Coronavirus patients.
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