Treating severe COVID-19 patients with the anticancer drug bevacizumab may reduce mortality and speed up recovery, according to a small clinical study in Italy and China that was led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden between February and April 2020. On average, blood oxygen levels, body temperature and inflammatory markers significantly improved in patients treated with a single dose of bevacizumab in addition to standard care. The research was published online on February 5, 2021 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “Efficacy and Tolerability of Bevacizumab in Patients with Severe Covid-19.” “To reduce COVID-19 mortality, we aim to develop an effective therapeutic paradigm for treating patients with severe COVID-19,” says corresponding author Yihai Cao, MD, PhD, Professor of Vascular Biology at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor, and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet. “Our findings suggest that bevacizumab, plus standard care, is highly beneficial for patients with severe COVID-19 and should be considered as a potential first-line therapeutic regimen for this group.” Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a medication that has been used to treat various types of cancer since 2004. It works by slowing the formation of new blood vessels by inhibiting a growth factor known as VEGF. Many patients with severe COVID-19 have elevated levels of VEGF as well as symptoms associated with this marker, including excess fluid and disorganized blood vessels in the lungs. Against this background, the researchers designed a clinical trial to investigate the effect of combining bevacizumab with standard care for treating patients with severe COVID-19.
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