Researchers at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan have begun a study which hopes to identify two common drugs that can be used to help in treating COVID-19 patients.
The drugs that are being researched, however, are probably the last you would expect: ketamine and naltrexone.
Researchers think that naltrexone and ketamine could be used to help treat patients with the COVID-19 virus.
For those of you unaware of naltrexone, it is a commonly used drug which can treat inflammatory pain conditions as well as addiction. Ketamine, on the other hand, is something we are sure you are well aware of. But, besides sending you into a K-hole at a music festival, ketamine is used as an anaesthetic that also has anti-inflammatory properties.
The study is called SINK COVID-19, or in other words, the Study of Immunomodulation using Naltrexone and Ketamine for COVID-19.
So, how would these drugs help COVID-19 patients? Dr Matthew Sims, Director of Infectious Disease Research for Beaumont Hospital, stated that researchers believe that the two drugs might be able to interrupt the severe and extremely damaging immune system response that can occur in patients with the COVID-19 virus.
“The addition of these two medications, as immunomodulators, to the treatment regimen of patients with COVID-19 has potential to decrease the severity of this disease by reducing the autoimmune, hyperinflammatory stages of the virus which is destructive to normal tissue and, when unchecked, rapidly leads to death,” Sims described.
“This study is twofold,” he continued. “It’s looking at whether naltrexone can prevent progression to the worst forms of COVID, and whether ketamine can rescue people who have gotten worse.”
Researchers will give naltrexone to patients who are in the earlier stages of COVID-19; however, if the virus persists and worsens, ketamine will be a second line of defence. Conversely, some patients will receive a placebo rather than naltrexone which will help solidify their research.
Researchers are hoping to recruit 500 volunteers for the study. However, it’s unclear when they’ll be able to get enough participants, especially since COVID-19 cases are starting to decline.
If the drugs are as successful as researchers believe they could be, we may see a morbidity and mortality benefit. Furthermore, these drugs could be a cost-effective, safe, and readily available medication which might just revolutionise global efforts to treat the COVID-19 pandemic.