Your gut houses 70% of your immune system. In these days of strengthening immunity, it’s not at all surprising to me that gut-focused options for overcoming COVID-19 are emerging. In fact, I see it as totally logical. However, to most of the world, this seems a rather novel approach.
A very forward-thinking company named Leading Biosciences has secured permission from the FDA to test whether its drug may be able to assist severe COVID-19 patients. The goal is to help them to breathe on their own and survive! The drug, known as LB1148, is designed to shore up the intestine’s natural barrier, the mucosal lining.
Can coronavirus cause leaky gut?
I’ve shared often about the full-body, chronic issues that can be the effect of leaky gut, officially known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut sets the stage for a wide range of inflammatory conditions. Issues can range from autoimmune syndromes to diabetes and even cardiovascular disease. Gert Schmid-Schonbein, a UC San Diego bioengineer, has been studying the effects of a leaky gut for nearly two decades. He has observed that digestive enzymes can leak into the bloodstream and wreak inflammatory havoc throughout the body. In fact, his lab showed that in an otherwise healthy animal, once enough enzymes break out of the intestine, where they belong, death can occur within hours.
Some patients with COVID-19 have obvious gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and stomach pain and have been found to shed the virus in their stool (more on that shortly). Leading Biosciences postulates that it’s possible that coronavirus kills intestinal cells and breaks down the lining of the gut. Once that happens, it’s possible that inflammatory enzymes that escape from the gut could end up in the lungs. This intestinal breach may fuel perhaps the most fatal aspect of the disease. I’m referring to the deadly hyper-inflammation, and tissue damage in the respiratory system.
A new drug offers gut-focused options for overcoming COVID-19
LB1148 attempts to block the enzymes that may be responsible for the raging inflammation and tissue damage that ultimately overrun the breathing system. It’s a different approach from targeting the virus directly, however, LB1148 offers a tool to treat those who are dealing with the most serious symptoms of this new disease.
The phase 2 trial begins in July. It will include 120 COVID-19 patients who require breathing assistance. Hopes are for better breathing ability, quickened healing times, and of course, survival. Prayers are extended for success! (1)
Wastewater may offer an early warning system of infection within a community
More interesting tidbits. Remember I mentioned COVID-19 leaves the body in the stool (above)? David Hirschberg is a founder of a nonprofit biotech firm and professor at the University of Washington Tacoma. Hirschberg and his team are looking into poop as a great source of information. According to the Washington Post, scientists say that the virus can be detected in untreated wastewater within days of infection. It appears it can even be measured two weeks before a person might seek medical care if symptoms manifest at all. This somewhat inexpensive and reliable early warning system may help public health officials determine when to impose local lockdowns, and also when to ease them. Other companies are looking into the same type of analyses. Poop comes to the rescue! (2)
Stool testing as an adjunct for nasal tests
Additionally, some physicians are using stool tests toward gut-focused treatment for COVID-19. Not all infected persons test positive on stool tests, however. A person can test negative on a nasal swab test, but exhibit a positive result in the stool. Time will reveal whether this is a result of testing protocols or dependent on an individual’s avenue of flu infection. Including stool testing makes a lot of sense given the information we learned above about sewage offering communities the possibility of an early warning of potential infection. (3)
Okay, my poop talk is done (for now). The most important take-away from all this info is — (drumroll!) – take the best care of your gut possible! A daily probiotic is strongly recommended. Whether you’re dealing with an active infection, or generally strengthening your immunity, a healthy microbiome will be front and center when dealing with this pandemic – and far beyond!