COVID-19: Dexamethasone discovery carries treatment implications

COVID-19: Dexamethasone discovery carries treatment implications

Patients with comorbidities like diabetes may not fully get the help of Dexamethasone. A new study suggests that those patients with such illnesses may reduce their potential for the drug.

Dexamethasone is one of the potential drugs that has seen a positive effect for those people with COVID-19, most especially for the critically-ill. But a new study suggests that it would not fully have the potential for those patients with diabetes and low albumin levels.

A team made the findings of scientists from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, University of Poland, and the University of South Carolina. According to News-Medical, the findings show that serum albumin, a protein found in the blood, is responsible for carrying the drug where it should be.

Patients with low albumin levels or diabetes make it hard to transport Dexamethasone. Corticosteroids, a major benefit of the drug that pacifies the immune system’s excessive response to COVID-19, cannot be transported in full, leading to death.

As mentioned earlier, the albumin is the cargo that transports the needed drug for COVID-19. The logistics of albumin alter when a patient has high sugar-level diabetes. It decreases the albumin’s capacity to hold such drugs when there is a present condition of diabetes in the patient.

Existing effective drugs

As scientists around the world are grappling with creating a vaccine against COVID-19, others are looking for what are the existing and effective drugs available that have the potential to save lives. Dexamethasone is one of them, and these findings help them understand more of its benefits on the patients.

COVID-19: Dexamethasone discovery carries treatment implications

“At this point, we do not have a readily available treatment better than dexamethasone for severe COVID-19 cases, but, like COVID-19 itself, its effectiveness is somewhat unpredictable,” this is according to Wladek Minor, Ph.D., lead author of the study from the Dept. of Physiology and Biological Physics at the University of Virginia.

He noted that these studies, which are a collaborative effort by various medical and science experts, aim to help them modify treatment and could potentially save human lives.

Dexamethasone and Albumin

The study reveals that serum albumin and the drug are tied-up in the same way as with testosterone. Dexamethasone and testosterone compete with each other.

Proponents of the study believe the drug is affecting testosterone transport by competing with albumin, resulting in low levels of the hormone. That is why it is an unwanted outcome that has been seen for those males who died of the virus.

The albumin also collects anti-inflammatory drugs that are nonsteroidal via the same binding port. It is now a matter of deciding on what COVID-19 treatment will be given to the patient.

For now, further study is needed in treating those with such comorbidities. Too much dexamethasone can have adverse side effects. That is why more research is being conducted on what dosing is suited for those people with low albumin levels.

Images used courtesy of Nucleus Medical Media/YouTube Screenshot

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