Two French hospitals are poised to start experimental treatment with sandworm blood of patients suffering of respiratory problems caused by the new coronavirus.
Doctors at Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital and Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris are going to test in coming days whether it is safe to inject the sandworm blood, directly in human blood, hoping to increase oxygen levels in the tissue of infected patients.
The French government drug agency ANSM approved the phase one clinical trial on March 27 and the government ethics committee cleared it on April 4.
Biology researcher Franck Zal, the CEO of biotechnology company Hemarina, observed years ago that sandworms, also known as lugworms, could survived on land and in water.
“I observed that the worm only breathes when it is in the sea, and when it is in the sand it stops breathing for 6 hours. So, I discovered that this molecule is its little oxygen tank that allows it to hold six hours until the next high tide,” Zal said.
The treatment Zal subsequently invented has been applied to kidney transplant patients and improved the oxygen levels of the organs.
Hemarina now has a worm farm on the Atlantic island of Noirmoutier.
The test will start with 10 coronavirus patients who are near death and will not include a control group. If the clinical trial goes to the next phase, it will include a control group.
The treatment will be administered one patient at a time and will be given only to those whose families have given consent.
French doctors admit that the treatment is unusual and in the early stage of testing, but due to urgent need to find solutions for the new COVID-19, they believe it is worth trying.
France had reported more than 8,000 deaths related to the coronavirus as of Sunday.