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Nitric oxide has long been used to treat medical conditions such as the Blue Baby Syndrome and for heart and lung transplant patients.

Therapeutic use of Nitric oxide can be a rapid, successful, and affordable gamechanger in the fight against Covid-19, a new study has claimed.

A study by doctors from Kochi’s Amrita Hospital and scientists from the School of Biotechnology at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham found that a novel Nitric oxide intervention was virucidal and killed the coronavirus. It also prevents the virus’ effective attachment to host cells.

Nitric oxide has long been used to treat medical conditions such as the Blue Baby Syndrome and for heart and lung transplant patients.

In the feasibility trial at Amrita Hospital, Covid-19 patients who received the iNO (inhaled Nitric oxide) therapy recovered faster with fewer complications than those who received standard treatment. The iNO therapy also had zero mortality, the study found.

Dean of Life Sciences at Amrita School of Biotechnology, Prof. Bipin Nair, said the idea behind the trials: “Our interest in looking at Nitric oxide as a treatment option for Covid-19 stemmed from an early study conducted by a Swedish group, which had suggested that the gas can prove effective in curbing the SARS-CoV-2 virus as it induces biochemical changes which directly affect the spike protein of the virus.”

“This protein is the main culprit in interacting with our body’s receptors and immune system and creating havoc.” 

The team at Amrita Hospital conducted the trial on a small group of patients. Of the 25 patients selected, 14 were administered iNO therapy alongside standard treatment, while 11 patients were in the control standard treatment group. The patients receiving iNO therapy displayed a significant drop in viral load. 

The researchers said the approach to repurpose Nitric oxide could potentially be an effective preventative, especially amid the emergence of the infectious Omicron variant. 

Dr. Geetha Kumar of Amrita School of Biotechnology said: “As the global search for an effective remedy against Covid-19 continues, this strategy to use Nitric oxide as a therapeutic measure has the scope to be a successful, rapid and affordable gamechanger in the fight against the pandemic.”

“It is conceivable that healthcare workers, who are constantly exposed to the coronavirus, could also use this as a prophylactic while treating infected patients.”

The expert panel involved in the study has called for an extended validation to take the treatment process to the next level. The study has been published in the Infectious Microbes & Diseases journal.

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