AZ Sint-Jan Brugge

COVID-19: two experimental drugs used in Flemish hospitals

Ghent University Hospital and Bruges Academic Hospital Sint-Jan are among several Flemish academic hospitals using two experimental drugs to treat coronavirus patients.  The drugs are used to reduce damage to the lungs.

A first drug stimulates the production of a substance already present in our body that will allow lung tissue to repair more quickly and enable the body to put up a better fight against corona.

The second drug is an anti-inflammatory usually used on patients with rheumatism. 

Medical corona co-ordinator at AZ Sint-Jan in Bruges Dr Stefaan Vandecasteele: “Corona patients experience the effect of an avalanche in their lungs inflicting a lot of damage.  Lungs fill with inflammatory fluid.  As a result the blood doesn’t get any oxygen.  This drug represses the avalanche effect. Often patients then no longer need a ventilator. “

Both methods were developed by Prof Bart Lambrecht of Ghent University Hospital, who won the Francqui science prize in 2014. The prize, dubbed the Belgian Nobel Prize, was awarded for his work on asthma and allergic reactions. 

The drugs are now used in Bruges, Ghent and other academic hospitals. They won’t be used on all patients.  As they are in a test phase their use is linked to scientific studies that measure their effect.  In these exceptional circumstances they are now being administered to help the sickest patients.