Israeli doctors to ‘zap’ COVID-19 patients to health

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A team of doctors at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer are planning to conduct a clinical trial using low-dose radiation therapy to fight COVID-19. It would be the first of its kind in Israel and one of the few similar studies in the world. Some 30 patients will participate in the study over the next 15 weeks, said Professor Zvi Symon of Sheba’s radiation oncology department. Le Jerusalem Post. The trial is based on the hypothesis that low dose radiation therapy (LDRT) could improve clinical, radiographic and immune outcomes of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome, he said. declared. some older radiation therapists around the world who remembered that 70 years ago some doctors used low dose radiation therapy to treat pneumonia, ”Symon said.Prof. Zvi Symon from the Radiation Oncology Department, Sheba (credit: courtesy Sheba Medical Center)Researchers began to study this therapy and found that between 1905 and 1946, the results of some 700 pneumonia patients treated with LDRT showed that it led to measurable clinical improvements within hours and days of treatment. administration. These studies took place before the era of randomized clinical trials and peer-reviewed journals, Symon said, adding, “It’s not entirely clear today how many of these were bacterial pneumonia, how much [were] viral pneumonia and how much [were] immune response pneumonia. But looking at these results was very encouraging. Soon after, Sheba’s doctors came across an article published by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta that showed they were treating five coronavirus patients with LDRT and comparing the results to a control group, those who received it. had 40% less need for mechanical ventilation and intensive care than those who did not.“When we saw this, we tried to generate interest in Sheba, and the head of the intensive care unit in charge of coronavirus patients in Sheba was impressed with these results and frustrated that so many of intensive care patients were in bad shape and there weren’t good therapies, ”said Symon the post.The team encountered a lot of opposition from some doctors who were afraid of the radiation side effects, but they submitted a proposal to the internal review committee for human and animal trials, a- he declared. They made their case and received approval from the Department of Health this week. “A process that would normally take months was completed in two and a half weeks, and after several rounds of clarifications, amendments and explanations, the Department of Health has now approved the protocol,” Symon said. “Our goal is to start next week.” While radiation is generally used in the management of malignant neoplasms, doctors around the world have broadened its applicability to a variety of benign illnesses. The protocol calls for a dose of radiation to both lungs at a very small dose, about a 70th or 100th of the dose used to treat cancer, Symon said. “There is no acute toxicity or harm associated with this type of radiation dose, at least to the naked eye,” he said. But the cells are sensitive and are affected by the treatment, which – in patients the hospital has so far been able to treat with compassionate use – has helped them wean themselves off oxygen. and feel better and heal quickly, Symon said. “The patients who received radiation improved and were able to get rid of oxygen and could breathe well in three to four days, while the other patients who did not receive radiation therapy took an average of 12 days. after pneumonia, ”he said. the right time, which is the onset of acute symptoms and before COVID-19 has caused serious multi-organ damage, Symon said. The implementation of the protocol is a “huge logistical problem,” he said. When the team wants to transport a COVID-19 positive patient, they must ensure that there are no cancer patients in the radiation therapy department. So far, all compassionate use treatments have been administered after working hours. Coronavirus patients do not pass through hospital hallways; they are transported via a vehicle from a special exit in the COVID-19 department to a special entrance in the radiation department by a team fully dressed in full personal protective equipment. They receive the radiation and are then brought back to their room. The procedure lasts approximately 30 to 40 minutes, and once patients are finished receiving their treatment, a detox and sanitation team sterilizes the room – including the floor, machinery, and anything that may have been touched – to ensure the safety of cancer patients who need radiation the next day.The clinical trial will allow Sheba to administer radiation to patients up to twice a week, Symon said the post.“Radiation remains the most effective drug in all cancers,” he said. “We firmly believe that we can save the lives of some of our grandfathers and grandmothers.”



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