NOV 15, 2020 8:15 AM PST

Antidepressant May Prevent Worsening of COVID-19 Infections

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

 

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that fluvoxamine, a common antidepressant used to treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), may prevent the degradation of COVID-19 cases in those who have recently been infected. 

The researchers were inspired to conduct the study following findings from last year that fluvoxamine is able to prevent a deadly immune response called sepsis. As negative outcomes from COVID-19 seem to occur from an overproduction of immune cells known as cytokines, the researchers thought that the drug might also be able to treat those infected with the virus. 

As such, they launched a randomized, double-blind trial to investigate the effects of fluvoxamine alongside a placebo in 152 adult outpatients infected with COVID-19. In doing so, they found that none of the participants on fluvoxamine saw clinical deterioration within 15 days, whereas six patients on the placebo did. Of these six people, four were hospitalized for between four and 21 days, with one being put on a ventilator for ten days. 

“The patients who took fluvoxamine did not develop serious breathing difficulties or require hospitalization for problems with lung function,” says Eric J. Lenze, MD, one of the researchers behind the study. 

“Most investigational treatments for COVID-19 have been aimed at the very sickest patients, but it’s also important to find therapies that prevent patients from getting sick enough to require supplemental oxygen or to have to go to the hospital. Our study suggests fluvoxamine may help fill that niche.”

The researchers say that while there are multiple ways in which the drug may have helped patients infected with COVID-19, they suspect it chiefly works by interacting with the sigma-1 receptor to reduce the production of inflammatory molecules. This would match previous research showing that fluvoxamine reduces inflammation in animals with sepsis. 

While interesting results, the researchers warn that there are some limitations to their findings. In particular, they say that their study sample size was small. As such, they now aim to launch a larger trial to test the drug in the coming weeks. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsJAMA Network

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
DEC 10, 2020
Immunology
Drug Turns Back the Clock in Aged Brains
DEC 10, 2020
Drug Turns Back the Clock in Aged Brains
When faced with stressful stimuli — anything from oxygen or nutrient deprivation to viral infections — cells ...
JAN 27, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Do Vaccines Work Against New Covid Variants?
JAN 27, 2021
Do Vaccines Work Against New Covid Variants?
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is mutating faster than scientists previously thought. As such, pharmaceutical companies are now sc ...
JAN 24, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Finding New Cancer Drugs
JAN 24, 2021
Finding New Cancer Drugs
Cells in our body share the same genes. But how those genes are expressed can dictate the fate of a cell. For ...
FEB 20, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Deep Brain Stimulation Offsets Epileptic Seizures
FEB 20, 2021
Deep Brain Stimulation Offsets Epileptic Seizures
Researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany have found that deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the brain’s ...
FEB 26, 2021
Microbiology
Good Bacteria Fights Bad Bacteria in a Clinical Trial
FEB 26, 2021
Good Bacteria Fights Bad Bacteria in a Clinical Trial
Eczema is a skin condition that causes a chronic, itchy rash. The most common form of the disorder, atopic dermatitis, i ...
FEB 11, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Antibiotic-Use During Pregnancy
FEB 11, 2021
Antibiotic-Use During Pregnancy
A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, shows that fetal exposure to antibiotics in mid to late pregn ...
Loading Comments...