U-M Researchers Find Drug to Calm Fatal Response to COVID-19

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Researchers at the University of Michigan have found a drug that can save the lives of COVID-19 patients on ventilators by calming he body’s overreactive immune response to the virus. The findings of the study were published in a peer-reviewed journal “Clinical Infectious Diseases.” View the full report


Keeping You in the Know: Tocilizumab for treatment of mechanically ventilated patients with COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor conducted a study of 154 patients — 74 who received the Tocilizumab treatment and 76 that did not.

Some key discoveries of the study include:

  • Critically ill COVID-19 patients who received a dose of intravenous tocilizumab were 45% less likely to die overall, compared to those who didn’t receive the drug.
  • Of those patients, they were more likely to be out of the hospital or off a ventilator one month after treatment.
  • The lower risk of death in patients who were treated with the drug occurred despite the fact that they also had twice the risk of developing an additional infection on top of COVID-19.

The drug used in the study, Tocilizumab, was originally designed for rheumatoid arthritis and has been used in cancer immunotherapy treaments. While clinical trials are still needed to see if the drug truly provides a benefit, the two groups offered a natural opportunity for researchers to study their outcomes.

The group developed treatment guidelines for doctors at Michigan Medicine in mid-March. The guidelines also pointed out the risk factors, so some doctors decided to use the medicine and others didn’t, creating the two groups and inadvertently setting the stage for a natural comparison. Read more about this study and view the full findings.

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