Research breakthrough: blood thinners to treat COVID-19

UHN’s Dr. Ewan Goligher (L) and Dr. Patrick Lawler co-led the international trial. (Photos: UHN)

An international clinical trial, co-lead by Dr. Patrick Lawler, cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, and Dr. Ewan Goligher, clinician-scientist at University Health Network, concluded that blood thinners decreased the need for life support and improved outcomes for patients hospitalized with the virus. 

COVID-19 is associated with significant inflammation and blood clots, and as such, Dr. Lawler, Dr. Goligher and their team have been testing and have confirmed that heparin (an anticoagulant that helps prevent the formation of blood clots) could neutralize the effects of COVID-19, before patients were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).   

At a time when we are seeing a rise in cases around the world, this form of treatment will improve patient outcomes and reduce pressure on hospital ICUs. This trial speaks to the value of international collaboration, as it is the first multi-platform international clinical trial ever undertaken, involving researchers across five continents and over 300 hospitals.

Please read the press release here.

It is important to note that initial seed money for this trial was provided by generous support from donors to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Innovation Fund. Following a special call for submissions last April, a grant was awarded to Dr. Lawler, Dr. Goligher and their colleagues that allowed them to proceed with the trial, demonstrate initial success and secure critical funding from other sources. 

It has been over 10 months since the pandemic was declared, and the team at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is working as diligently as ever to lead research that will improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19. Thank you to all those who continue to support our work.

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