A recent study discovered how lower temperatures improved a surfactant’s activity, showing that therapeutic hypothermia is a possible treatment option for ARDS, which impacts roughly one-tenth of intensive care unit (“ICU”) patients globally. Apart from patients in ICUs, critical coronavirus patients also suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome.
In layman’s language, therapeutic hypothermia is the intentional cooling of an individual’s body. Research conducted by Chiara Autilio and colleagues from the Jesus Perez-Gil laboratory at the Complutense University of Madrid demonstrates how therapeutic hypothermia works at the molecular level in an individual’s lungs; the research also notes how this method could effectively be applied to acute respiratory distress syndrome.
This study was presented at the 65th Biophysical Society annual meeting, which was held virtually in February. The researchers’ findings were reported in the “Nature Scientific Reports” journal earlier in January of this year.
The study explains that the surfactant is a molecular mixture found inside the lungs, which is needed for breathing. Sometimes, premature babies are born without having developed this molecular mixture, which is why they may need emergency surfactant replacement treatments to help them breathe. It should be noted, however, that this molecular mixture is broken up in grown-ups who have lung inflammation or injuries and can also be inactivated.
The team of researchers grew curious to see how cooling would affect the surfactant after discovering therapeutic hypothermia’s use in improving breathing in premature babies and prior research, which demonstrated how it benefited acute respiratory distress syndrome (“ARDS”).
The researchers observed the isolated molecular mixture in their laboratory, with Autilio stating that they discovered an improvement in the activity of the surfactant at 33º C. They discovered that at that temperature, the molecular mixture had lower surface tension, which made it easier for oxygen to enter the lungs. The researchers also discovered that the lower surface tension altered the molecules’ activity in the surfactant, thereby hindering the mixture from being affected by blood molecules, which may happen when an individual has a lung injury.
The study’s findings suggest that therapeutic hypothermia could be used to help individuals who have acute respiratory distress syndrome to breathe. Autilio noted that clinical trials are being conducted to test whether therapeutic hypothermia could be used as a treatment for severe breathing difficulties associated with the coronavirus, adding that the team of researchers would now focus on developing a surfactant for grown-ups.
Diverse research on different health conditions is currently planned or ongoing. For instance, AzurRx BioPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: AZRX) raised more than $20 million last year to finance its planned clinical trials focusing on its drug candidate intended to treat cystic fibrosis.
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