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The Making of Medicine

Eczema Treatment Improves Survival For COVID-19 Patients

A clinical trial conducted here at UVA suggests that an eczema treatment you may have seen advertised on TV may also reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.

Our Jennifer Sasson, MD, and colleagues tested the monoclonal antibody dupilumab, sold under the brand name Dupixent, to see if it would benefit patients with moderate to severe COVID-19. They found that dupilumab improved survival at 60 days and reduced the number of patients who needed to be moved to the Intensive Care Unit. Almost 90% of patients who received dupilumab remained alive after 60 days, compared with 76.2% of patients who received a placebo, a harmless sham treatment. Both groups -- 40 patients in total -- otherwise received the standard care. 

The trial was randomized and double blinded, meaning neither the volunteer participants nor their doctors knew if they were receiving dupilumab or placebo.

The researchers launched the trial after discovering that patients with COVID-19 were at much greater risk of needing a ventilator if their blood contained high levels of interleukin-13, a driver of inflammation in the body. Dupilumab works by blocking interleukin-13.

Based on the promising results, the researchers are already planning a larger trial. Congratulations to the researchers for discovering this promising lead.

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