Scientists Test Nicotine as Potential COVID-19 Treatment

Researchers are testing nicotine patches as a treatment for COVID-19.

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In US news and current events today, scientists are testing nicotine as a treatment for COVID-19But that doesn’t mean you need to go out & buy a pack of cigarettes. The researchers are testing nicotine patches on coronavirus patients and health workers, after research showed smokers had lower rates of COVID-19 infection compared to non-smokers. In a preliminary study of 480 patients at Pitie-Salpetriere University Hospital in Paris, smokers made up only approximately 5% of COVID-19 patients. One scientist involved with the study said that those results, when compared to the number of smokers in the general population, shows that smokers have approx an 80% less risk of being infected.

One potential theory is that the nicotine is effectively stopping the virus from entering cells. Jean-Pierre Changeux, a neurobiologist from the Pasteur Institute, said that nicotinic receptors are known to be active in rabies infections. It’s for this reason the researchers are looking for a similar link between nicotinic receptors and the coronavirus. Changeux said symptoms like the loss of the sense of smell and other symptoms that involve the nervous system could point to a role played by neuroreceptors such as nicotinic receptors. Each health worker and patient involved in the study will receive patches containing 14-mg of nicotine per day. The study will last from 4-6 weeks and be conducted across France. The researchers want to caution that they’re not saying smoking is safe and are asking people not to self-medicate with nicotine, since smoking can exacerbate the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.

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