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Ohio State Testing Nitric Oxide Treatment For COVID-19 Patients

Dr. Sitaramesh Emani holds the Bellerophon INOpulse delivery system that helps COVID-19 patients breathe.
Courtesy of Dr. Sitaramesh Emani
Dr. Sitaramesh Emani holds the Bellerophon INOpulse delivery system that helps COVID-19 patients breathe.

A new clinical trial at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center aims to improve coronavirus outcomes by using inhaled nitric oxide. 

Ohio State is the first health system in the state to use the medicine for COVID-19 patients to keep them out of intensive care. A trial of three patients started a week ago.

Cardiologist Sitaramesh Emani says patients who require oxygen, but not yet a ventilator, receive a precise and constant dose of the gas via the Bellerophon INOpulse, a small delivery system. It’s designed to work regardless of the patient’s breathing pattern.

“Patients are reporting once they’re on treatment they feel like they can breathe a little bit better,” says Emani. "We’re seeing improvement in their fevers, which is another hallmark of this disease.”

One of the first three patients in the clinical trial saw their condition improve and has been released. That person, identified only as being between 50-60 years old, went home after three days of the inhaled nitric oxide treatment. They'll continue to be monitored by Ohio State researchers.

Emani says researchers want to use the INOpulse technology to treat as many patients as possible, and do a scientific evaluation, so that eventually it can be incorporated into official treatment guidelines.

“What we hope to do is, knowing that this medication can help in those situations, is try to deliver this medication to patients who are sick enough to be in the hospital, not so sick that they’re in the intensive care unit, and in doing so hope to arrest or limit the progression of the disease, if not completely fight against the disease because of the antiviral properties,” Emani says.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.