BENGALURU: Doctors in Bengaluru are using immunomodulator drugs to treat Covid-19 patients, and the therapy has been found to be beneficial, particularly in cases of patients who have certain comorbid conditions.Health professionals at Sagar group of hospitals in Bengaluru are using thymosin alpha1, a type of peptide that functions as an immunomodulator and activates the T cells which help coordinate the body’s immune responses.
The drug is delivered intravenously over seven days. Each dose costs Rs 1,300. It has been well-tolerated in moderate to critically ill patients.Thymosin Alpha 1 has been used to activate, boost, or restore normal immune responses when diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS and SARS impair the immune system.
“It reduces the cytokine storm and ultimately reduces mortality in patients who are severely ill by restoration of exhausted T cells and reversion of lymphocytopenia. I have used this molecule in approximately 200 patients who have benefitted,” Dr Dr R Ravi Kumar, head of ICU and critical care at Sagar Group of Hospitals. Lymphocytopenia is a disorder in which the body doesn’t have enough cells called lymphocytes which help protect the body from infection.
The drug was found to be beneficial in treating elderly Covid-19 patients, and those with comorbid ities such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease.Patients who sought early medical help and who were given the drug did not need intubation or mechanical ventilation. “We could manage them with high flow nasal cannula (a type of oxygen therapy). I have used it on mild to moderate cases and it has helped prevent invasive ventilation in patients.
The basic treatment for Covid-19 remains the same. Thymosin alpha1 is used as additional therapy, to be administered under the supervision of critical care specialists,” Dr Kumar said. “It is a promising drug in the armamentarium against Covid-19,” he said, but urged people to keep practising preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing of masks and hand washing, and seek medical help early if they develop symptoms.