CytoSorb, the Wuhan Coronavirus, and Cytokine Storm

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January 28, 2020

CytoSorbents Corporation is a critical care immunotherapy leader with more than 80,000 global treatments of its CytoSorb® blood purification technology to treat deadly inflammation in critically-ill and cardiac surgery patients around the world has announced the recent publication in The Lancet entitled, “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.”

The article notes the correlation of high levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines, or “cytokine storm,” with severity of illness in patients infected with the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV).  These data provide the rationale to potentially use CytoSorb, the first specifically-approved extracorporeal cytokine adsorber in the European Union, in this setting.  CytoSorb is distributed in 58 countries worldwide and is available in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, France, and Australia where patients infected with the virus have been reported.

In this publication, Huang, et al. describe the characteristics and clinical course of hospitalized patients infected with the Wuhan coronavirus who did, or did not, require treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU).  Those that were admitted to the ICU, particularly those with severe disease, exhibited significantly higher levels of inflammatory cytokines compared to those that did not.

This “cytokine storm” can trigger a viral sepsis in coronavirus infection, where viral replication and excessive, uncontrolled systemic inflammation can lead to pneumonitis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, respiratory failure, shock, organ failure, secondary bacterial pneumonia, and potentially death.  This same correlation between cytokine storm and the severity of illness was observed previously in both SARS and MERS patients.

Dr. Phillip Chan, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of CytoSorbents stated, “CytoSorb has been used to control deadly inflammation in tens of thousands of treatments in patients with either bacterial or viral sepsis.  Although CytoSorb has not yet been specifically used to treat patients infected with this newly emergent coronavirus, we believe it can play an important role, with or without anti-viral therapies, in the treatment of this highly inflammatory illness.”

Researchers in Hong Kong have warned that the number of people infected by the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) could be 30 times more than the reported 4,500 cases that have killed 106 people already, with now 5 confirmed cases and more than 100 suspected cases in the U.S.

The contagiousness, lack of specific treatments or vaccines, and feared mortality has created a health scare in China and in many countries around the world similar to the 2002-2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus outbreak in China that infected 8,098 people and killed 774 (or 1 in 10 died), and the 2012 MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus contagion with 2,494 confirmed cases and 858 deaths to date (approximately 1 in 3 died).

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