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Heparin effective and safe treatment for COVID-19

Researchers from the Australian National University, with King’s Heparin, have discovered that heparin can limit lung damage when inhaled by COVID-19 patients.

Patients with severe COVID-19 disease develop blood clots in the lungs which can be lethal. Blood thinners, such as Heparin, can prevent such clots from forming. Because the drug has antiviral properties and calms the immune system, it can be used at different stages of treatment. Indeed, treated patients included in the studies were not uniform in their COVID-19 disease severity, which suggests inhaled Heparin is safe and effective to use across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease.

The researchers found that breathing and oxygen levels improved in 70% of patients after inhaling a course of heparin.

Study lead, Professor Frank van Haren, from The Australian National University, said: “This drug is already available in hospitals all over the world and it is a very inexpensive drug. If it is as effective as our early results suggest, it could have a major impact in our fight against COVID.”

He added: “It also works as an anti-inflammatory drug; the medicine has the ability to calm everything down when the body is mounting an exaggerated response to the virus. We already know heparin can reduce lung damage caused by this inflammation and the immune response overdrive that we see in other lung diseases which could provide benefit to patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

He added: “There is no other drug that has these three different effects: anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant...Most COVID experts agree that vaccination alone is not going to stop the pandemic. This could really assist in poorer countries where vaccination is challenging and we think it could help front line workers who could use it as a preventative measure.”

The findings are published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

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