LSU researchers discover compound that could prevent COVID-19

They are looking towards clinical development and testing next
LSU Health researchers have made a discovery that could prevent COVID-19 and protect your lungs.
LSU Health researchers have made a discovery that could prevent COVID-19 and protect your lungs.(LSU Health)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:05 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - LSU Health researchers have made a discovery that could prevent COVID-19 and protect your lungs.

They’re called Elovanoids and researchers figured out they may block the virus from entering your cells.

“As soon as the virus touches the cells, lungs start the making of proteins that protect the lung and so its both blocking the entrance and activating defense mechanisms in the lung to be protected,” Dr. Nicolas Bazan said.

In 2017, Bazan, the Director of the Neuroscience Center, discovered these compounds were produced in the brain and eye to protect those organs.

You may be wondering by this point, what does neuroscience have to do with your lungs?

The answer, Bazan was curious and wanted to see if he could contribute to the fight against the virus.

“We also discovered that the lung makes these compounds, so, with our chemists, we made small modifications but they are not purely synthetic,” Bazan said. “Many, many drugs that we take are created in the laboratory based on special chemistry and all the time there are side effects and toxicities. Here we are dealing with something that is naturally occurring.”

Bazan says this is especially beneficial for high risk patients.

“We believe that in low amounts, it could be preventive to prevent the entrance of the virus and for someone who already has the disease, to use higher amount in a curative way,” Bazan said.

“If that can be done in a way that’s very safe and affordable and feasible, I think, as ICU doctors we greatly welcome anything in that realm,” Dr. Kyle Happel said.

As a Pulmonologist, Happel has seen the long term lung damage COVID can cause working in the ICU at UMC.

“I think because of the novelty of this class of compounds, the applications really are very broad and I think that again, as a clinician, we very much are looking for that next step back next compound that can help us treat an infection,” Happel said.

Because it’s not just COVID Bazan thinks this anti-inflammatory compound could be able to treat. Pneumonia is also a big one.

“Having something that’s protective against multiple types of injuries that sort of have a common denominator of oxidative stress, to me, it’s very exciting,” Happel said.

Bazan says the next step is clinical development and they’ve already begun looking for the company to do it so that testing can begin.

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