A clinical trial is underway to investigate the possibility that statins, drugs commonly used to combat high cholesterol, might help patients with acute severe respiratory failure. Some 150 patients from Ireland and the United Kingdom have been recruited into the trial, with a target number of 540 patients total.

The trial, lead by researchers from NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast, is specifically looking at the use of simvastatin as a safe and effective treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The study, which builds on a series of other studies using looking at the same drug, is expected to take up to 5 years to complete.

The researchers plan to take blood samples to measure markers of inflammation that will allow them to determine if simvastatin can reduce the immune response that causes the lung injury associated with ARDS. In addition, they will examine the severity of damage to patients’ lungs and how fast they recover with simvastatin use.

Trial participants will be randomly divided into two groups—one given the active drug and the other a placebo.

Source: NUI Galway