The 42-year-old man arrived at a hospital in Paris on March 17 with a fever, cough and the “ground glass opacities” in both lungs that are a trademark of infection with the new coronavirus.
Two days later, his condition suddenly worsened and his oxygen levels dropped. His body, doctors suspected, was in the grip of a cytokine storm, a dangerous overreaction of the immune system. The phenomenon has become all too common in the coronavirus pandemic, but it is also pointing to potentially helpful drug treatments.
In some cases — as much as 15 percent of people battling any serious infection, according to Dr. Cron’s team — the immune system keeps raging long after the virus is no longer a threat. It continues to release cytokines that keep the body on an exhausting full alert. In their misguided bid to keep the body safe, these cytokines attack multiple organs including the lungs and liver, and may eventually lead to death.
His doctors tried tocilizumab, a drug they have sometimes used to soothe an immune system in distress. After just two doses of the drug, spaced eight hours apart, the patient’s fever rapidly disappeared, his oxygen levels rose and a chest scan showed his lungs clearing. The case report, described in an upcoming paper in Annals of Oncology, joins dozens of accounts from Italy and China, all indicating that tocilizumab might be an effective antidote to the coronavirus in some people.
More here: nytimes.com/2020/04/01/heal...
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