As of this morning – Monday June 15 – the current recorded case count for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the UK has hit 295,889 with 41,698 deaths.

Researchers are gearing up to evaluate whether a new drug can prevent lung damage and blood clots in people with COVID-19 in hospitals in the UK.

Researchers at the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at Imperial College London will lead the 60-patient pilot study testing TRV027, a drug developed by Trevana that targets cell pathways thought to be major drivers of severe illness in COVID-19.

The trial will follow patients for eight days during the critical period where some patients’ symptoms worsen significantly requiring treatment in ICU and sometimes ventilation.

TRV027 aims to restore the balance between angiotensin II and angiotensin 1-7, hormones that control blood pressure and affect blood vessels. Usually, this balance is maintained by ACE-2, which sits on cell surfaces and is also the ‘entry point’ for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

The current belief is that in COVID-19 the balance between these two hormones tips towards too much angiotensin II, making the blood become more sticky and thus facilitating the development of blood clots.

It is thought that TRV027 can both block angiotensin II activity and also mimicking angiotensin (1-7) activity and so, by restoring the balance between the two, may hinder the damage caused by the virus.

“We need to move away from thinking of COVID-19 as solely a respiratory illness - it also has devastating effects on the rest of the body including the blood vessels and heart,” said Dr Kat Pollock, senior clinical research fellow in Vaccinology and Honorary Consultant at Imperial College London who is jointly leading the study.

“Our study will play an important role in understanding the mechanisms which make COVID-19 so dangerous and offers a potential treatment.”