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May 5, 2020

Blood filter may calm Covid-19 cytokine storm

By Chloe Kent

Physicians at the Medical College of Georgia are replacing the usual filter in a kidney dialysis machine with one that will try and trap cytokine proteins in patients with severe Covid-19 whose kidneys are failing.

Cytokine storms created by Covid-19 are causing major organ damage and leading to death in some patients.

Medical College of Georgia nephrologist Dr Azeem Mohammed said: “Cytokines are supposed to destroy the virus, but there is such a high level of cytokines that they are actually destroying organs.”

When Covid-19 patients at the Medical College of Georgia have to be placed on dialysis the blood filter will be fitted for up to 72 hours. Cytokine levels will be assessed at 24 and 48 hours to assess the impact of the filter on the patient. The nephrologists expect to see levels fall and clinical status improve. While this is not an official clinical trial, there’s potential for further research down the line.

Mohammed said: “If we can come in early in the disease process, our hypothesis is that patients will not do so poorly, they will not have so much organ dysfunction, they will probably have less clotting, less ARDS, less kidney failure.”

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