The search for viable coronavirus infection treatments is still ongoing. Many doctors are taking a second look at as many different existing drugs and medication as possible in the hopes of finding a solution. Now, experts are also eyeing to a "little blue pill" or Viagra: nitric oxide.
How Nitric Oxide Could Help COVID-19 Patients
According to a report by the Daily Mail, doctors from three European countries and three states in the US are testing how useful nitric oxide could be in treating COVID-19 patients.
Many critically ill coronavirus patients have oxygen-deprived blood vessels after the COVID-19 attacks the lungs, and it could not perform its function well, thus needing the assistance of ventilators to breathe.
Nevertheless, ventilator supply is in shortage, including medication needed for ventilators, according to The New York Times.
With the help of nitric oxide, experts may see whether it can provide much-needed oxygen to starved blood vessels in the lungs of critically ill COVID-19 patients. Nitric oxide is known for its capability to help the blood vessels dilate and increase the amount of oxygen flowing in the body.
If the tests succeed, many coronavirus patients may not need ventilators to breathe, which could lessen the growing demand for the device.
Effective Against Coronaviruses Like the SARS Virus
Additionally, the colorless gas has been found to have antiviral properties and is effective against different types of coronaviruses, specifically the one that led to the SARS outbreak in 2003.
According to the Los Angeles Times, nitric oxide was used for patients suffering from SARS, a close cousin of the COVID-19, and it effectively killed the virus.
The clinical tests surrounding nitric oxide are now undergoing in Sweden, Austria, Italy, Alabama, Massachusetts, and Louisiana, where patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 will inhale nitric oxide through a CPAP machine.
This will be done for 20 to 30 minutes each session, two to three times a day.
The Massachusetts General Hospital spearheads the entire clinical test through the leadership of critical care specialist, Dr Lorenzo Berra.
"It's a pretty remarkable drug," the specialist said to the Boston Herald. "It has a risk profile that is minimal."
A Promising Trial
The principal investigator of the clinical trial in Louisiana State University Hospital, Dr. Keith Scott, also believes that the use of nitric oxide could alter the "devastating effects of COVID-19," but agrees that it still needs testing.
Nevertheless, the gas is already approved by the FDA, so widespread use could begin as soon as possible.
In Italy, doctors are already using nitric oxide in more haphazard circumstances, and it has shown great promise as COVID-19 patients' oxygen levels in their blood have increased significantly.
Nitric oxide was named as Molecule of the Year in 1992.
Doctors have already been using nitric oxide for many years to help treat infants with birth defects.--infants inhale this gas as a last resort before they are placed in an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine and help newborn babies breathe better.Various researches about the gas have also led to the development of Viagra, which is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction.