Optimizing a T3 Formulation for COVID-19 Patients With ARDS

illustration of xray showing damaged lungs

Some COVID-19 patients are dying from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe, life-threatening form of respiratory failure characterized by pulmonary edema, inflammation, hypoxemia and a high mortality rate. There are no specific therapies approved for ARDS, and the standard of care is limited to mechanical ventilation, supplemental oxygen and supportive care.

Previous research conducted at the University suggests that instillation of triiodothyronine (T3), a naturally-occurring thyroid hormone, directly to the lungs of ARDS patients could increase alveolar fluid clearance, improve oxygenation, and decrease the need for prolonged mechanical ventilation.

A clinical formulation of T3 is available but there is no human safety data to support instillation directly into the lungs. The Center for Translational Medicine conducted preclinical studies to demonstrate the safety of direct T3 instillation and enable initiation of a University-sponsored phase I/II clinical trial evaluating the use of T3 for patients with ARDS.

Led by Robert Schumacher, PhD, the Center for Translational Medicine’s scientific director, researchers in this study will develop a new T3 formulation for the T3-ARDS clinical trial.

“Our long-term goal is to develop a safe and effective therapy for patients with ARDS,” said Schumacher. “This new formulation will provide a reliable and cost-effective formulation that we can use in the first-in-human T3-ARDS clinical trial.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.