Prevention is the best strategy to fight coronavirus (the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 named SARS-CoV-2). The world is awaiting with bated breath for clinically approved vaccines.
No specific drugs or drug formulations for SARS-CoV-2 transmission is examined. Currently, the only antiviral treatment recommended is to give a dose of Remdesivir drug to coronavirus patients who need to be hospitalized.
Remdesivir was originally developed to treat the Ebola virus, another infectious disease caused by a virus. It is understood that in order to shorten the recovery time of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the drug was given to patients.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) now states that Remdesivir will neither shorten the hospital stay of Covid-19 patients nor reduce the mortality rate of those infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This is depressing news for the world, which is finding it difficult to get rid of this debilitating virus.
Nevertheless, recent studies have found a new solution that is as effective as the antiviral treatment for coronavirus.
A recent study found that nitric oxide which is a cell-signaling molecule produced by the human body naturally may be a potential treatment for coronavirus infection until the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The research concluded that nitric oxide may become a potential treatment for coronavirus by alleviating the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in patients.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is an oxide of nitrogen. Don’t be confused with another oxide of nitrogen-nitrous oxide, which plays a role in global warming.
Nitric oxide molecule is a vasodilator-that is, it widens blood vessels to increase blood flow and therefore has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. In addition to this, nitric oxide has antiviral properties.
Besides this, Scientists conducted an in-vitro study using monkey cell cultures and came to a conclusion.
Monkey Cell Cultures
To test the antiviral effects of nitric oxide, Lundkvist and his team used monkey cell cultures infected with SARS-CoV-2. They treated the cells with a chemical called SNAP (S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine) to produce nitric oxide.
As a control, they treated other infected cells with NAP (N-acetylpenicillamine). NAP is an almost identical chemical that does not produce nitric oxide.
SNAP reduces the amount of viral RNA produced by infected cells and the damage caused by the virus. The increase in SNAP concentration resulted in greater protection against the virus. In contrast, NAP cannot protect infected cells or reduce the amount of viral RNA they produce, which proves that nitric oxide is responsible for the antiviral effect.
Scientists discovered that nitric oxide inhibits protease that is a key enzyme, and the virus SARS-CoV-2 needs to replicate itself.
CORONAVIRUS TREATMENT HOPE
Based on their findings, scientists have come to the theory that inhaling nitric oxide gas can improve the outlook for patients with severe Covid-19.
The medical staff has used inhaled nitric oxide to treat a range of heart and lung diseases.
The researchers wrote in the paper: Based on this study and previous researches on SARS-CoV in vitro, and in a small clinical trial, we have concluded that nitric oxide can be used in the clinical treatment of coronavirus infection and other human coronavirus infections.
Their prescription is supported by early research. A study in 2005 found that nitric oxide inhibited the replication of SARS-CoV, which caused worldwide panic in 2002-2003. SARS-CoV is very similar to SARS-CoV-2, that is why the current pandemic virus is so named.
SARS-CoV caused an outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which is similar to coronavirus illness.
In past, studies have shown that nitric oxide is effective against a variety of viruses, including hantavirus, herpes virus, and coxsackievirus (an enterovirus that causes mouth, hand, and foot disease).
Taking SARS as an example, another study found that inhaling nitric oxide at a low concentration can improve blood oxygenation in infected patients.
In addition to this, previous studies have also shown that it increases the amount of oxygen in the blood by dilating the blood vessels in the lungs with the highest airflow. It also dwindles blood clotting in the lungs.
Therefore, it has proven to be an effective antiviral drug.
Coronavirus patients with critical complications complained of an abrupt decline in oxygen levels in their blood cells. It is against in this context that researchers recommend inhaling nitric oxide as an effective form of treatment for coronavirus, and is expected to fight the coronavirus pandemic until the world gets a proven vaccine.