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Researchers have discovered just how the antacid famotidine, commonly sold as Pepcid by a Johnson & Johnson unit, was able to help alleviate COVID-19 symptoms in clinical trials.
In studies in mice, they found that famotidine stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the immune system and other involuntary body functions. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it can send out signals to suppress cytokine storms.
When famotidine was administered to the mice, it significantly reduced levels of inflammatory proteins in the blood and spleen and improved survival. But when the vagus nerve was cut, famotidine no longer stopped the cytokine storms, according to a report published on Monday in Molecular Medicine.
The data “point to a role of the vagus nerve inflammatory reflex in suppressing cytokine storm during COVID-19,” coauthor Dr. Kevin Tracey of The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, said in a statement.
Direct electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve is known to improve a variety of diseases. “Famotidine, a well-tolerated oral drug, could offer an additional method” of activating the vagus nerve to reduce inflammatory protein generation and resulting tissue damage in COVID-19 and other diseases, the researchers concluded.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid