Mumbai: For the first time in the country, anti-fibrotic drugs have been used to treat patients suffering from COVID-19-related lung fibrosis and breathlessness which has helped in the recovery of four such patients in Maharashtra's Pune, the Army has said.
"The researchers at the Pune-based Army Institute of Cardiothoracic Sciences (AICTS) have found this therapy very effective in this subset of COVID-19 patients and they were safely tolerated as well. This is a novel strategy to tackle the lung fibrosis to treat subset of COVID-19 patients," the release said.
It said these are early results and more research is being undertaken in this field to identify the patients who are likely to benefit from the therapy.
"Scientists have achieved a breakthrough in management of severe cases by commencing anti-fibrotic therapy in four such patients who were difficult to wean from oxygen due to extensive lung fibrosis. The patients have been discharged from the hospital after the recovery," it said.
It said a breakthrough in management of severe cases has been achieved by pulmonologists at the Pune-based AICTS by commencing anti-fibrotic therapy (tablet Nintedanib) in four such patients.
"The therapy proved to be very helpful in reducing the oxygen requirement of these patients and they were discharged home on minimal oxygen after few weeks.
"This is the first time in the country that these anti-fibrotic drugs have been used in COVID-19 related lung fibrosis. These drugs have been used for other types of lung fibrosis secondary to auto-immune diseases (arthritis related) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis," it said.
These drugs have an established safety profile in these fibrotic diseases, the statement said.
"Researchers at AICTS have found this therapy very effective in this subset of COVID-19 patients and they were safely tolerated as well. This is a novel strategy to tackle the lung fibrosis to treat subset of COVID-19 patients," it said.
The release said it had been observed that a significant number of patients treated for severe COVID pneumonia are developing lung fibrosis, which means a severe scarring of lung tissue that causes low oxygen levels.
"This may manifest as fatigue, breathlessness and lifelong requirement of oxygen support," it said.
"The lung fibrosis is usually seen in those patients who are detected late and have extensive pneumonia. Many a times, it becomes difficult to wean these patients off oxygen in spite of anti-inflammatory therapies like steroids and they remain in ICU for a long period of time," it added.