Scientists propose treatment for COVID-19 complications

Research article published in recent issue of Elsevier journal

At a time when COVID-19 has become a potential threat to global public health, an interdisciplinary team of researchers has proposed a new line of treatment for the disease.

“Through our study, we hope to find a remedy for COVID-19-associated life-threatening complications,” said Punnoth Poonkuzhi Naseef, the first author of the publication and professor, department of pharmaceutics, Moulana College of Pharmacy, Perinthalmanna, Malappuram.

The research article was published in the recent edition of Elsevier, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences.

“Iron metabolism plays a key role in determining the severity of COVID-19. Ferritin is a compound that regulates iron metabolism in the body,” said Muhammed Elayadeth Meethal, lead author and assistant professor, department of animal breeding and genetics, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, said.

“Hyperferritinemia, an increase in ferritin content in blood, has been associated with life-threatening complications due to COVID-19. We propose ferritin as a therapeutic target to combat COVID-19,” Dr. Muhammed said.

In COVID-19, identifying the biological pathways leading to complications and death was a puzzle for health professionals. There are several pathways that explain how COVID-19 showed severe morbidity, he added.

Iron metabolism imbalance has been linked to immune-mediated COVID-19 complications. The research team integrated protocols from multiple disciplines through interdisciplinary collaborations. The team has compiled nine publications so far.

Interestingly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has already featured two of their COVID-19 publications.

“The next step in the research will be to identify therapeutic molecules that target ferritin-mediated pathways in COVID-19 disease severity,” Dr. Naseef said.

“Researchers now plan to expand studies in the area through wider collaborations. Our research plans include optimising, validating, and characterising therapeutic molecules and patenting them,” Dr. Muhammed said.

Besides researchers from Indian institutions, Dr. Muhammed Saheer Kuruniyan of King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia, who made major contributions to the study, also participated in the research.

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