Britain will start trials of five new drugs as part of efforts to fight the novel coronavirus, local media reported on Monday.

Scientists in the country are looking to sign up hundreds of patients for trials to find a way to prevent people from becoming so ill that they need intensive care or ventilators.

A report by the Guardian says the trials will start in 30 hospitals.

A blood-thinning drug called heparin is one of the medications in the intended trials. It will be given to COVID-19 patients for the first time as it can “have a dramatic effect in the lung”, according to Tom Wilkinson, who is a respiratory medicine professor and consultant.

Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “It is a big sticky molecule which can attach to viruses and stop them from entering cells and secondly it may have an important anti-inflammatory effect”.

The drug can be produced in huge quantities in a cost effective way if proven to be effective.

Bemcentinib, a tablet developed by the Norwegian company BerGenBio, is another drug to be tested. It is used to treat blood disorders.

Medi3506, an anti-inflammatory injection being developed for skin disorders and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but which has also been used in trials for asthma by AstraZeneca, is another drug in the trials.

It acts to dampen down the cytokine storm that causes the immune system to go into overdrive and cause fever, inflammation and fatigue, the daily said.

Calquence, another AstraZeneca drug, used to treat mantle cell lymphoma, will also be tested on patients. It was developed for severe lung inflammation. The drug previously reduced incidence of complications from COVID infection or severe lung injuries.

Zilucoplan, a drug developed by the Belgian company UCB, which has been in trial for potential treatment of myasthenia gravis, a skeleto-muscular disorder, is another drug in the UK trials.

Sixty patients for each drug will need to be assessed over the next few months. Researchers will look to work with other countries and possibly coronavirus patients who are not hospitalized but have strong symptoms.

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