Yale’s lung fibrosis drug shows promise for treating COVID-19 lung distress


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A few years ago, Yale pulmonologist Dr. Naftali Kaminski started developing a drug for lung fibrosis, which now seems effective against specific life-threatening effects of COVID-19.

The drug called Sobetirome heals scarring and improves cell function in the lungs. Scientists in a new study have discovered that Sobetirome is also effective at preventing and treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). This life-threatening condition allows fluid to leak into the lungs, which is common in COVID-19 patients, particularly among older patients.

Yale pulmonologist Dr. Naftali Kaminski said“It was surprising how effective Sobetirome was in mouse models. We saw significant improvement. The drug has not yet been tested for ARDS in humans, but once they secure needed funding, they can quickly move it to trial and FDA approval.”

“On any given day, there are 20-30 patients in Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Intensive Care Units with ARDS.”

“We have gotten good at ventilating them, but right now, there are no therapies that can treat it.”

“COVID-19 has a “lurking period” before patients begin experiencing shortness of breath, a drop in oxygen levels, and respiratory failure. Internally, what’s happening in the body is known as a “cytokine storm,” a way that scientists describe a massive overreaction of the body’s immune system, leading to flooding of immune cells and fluid into lungs — and hastening patient death. Sobetirome interferes in that cytokine storm.”

“What if we can take advantage of the lurking period of COVID-19, protect cells, and prevent ARDS?”

Sobetirome has already been tested in humans and is previously known to be safe.

According to Kaminski, It would speed up the drug’s approval process for COVID-19.

Scientists are now seeking funding for clinical trials with high-risk COVID-19 patients, both at Yale-New Haven Hospital and in Greece with partner Dr. Argyrios Tzouvelekis, a former postdoctoral fellow at Yale who is now an associate professor of medicine at the University of Patras.


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