Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers have identified a potential drug candidate, larazotide acetate, to treat serious Covid-19 complication, multi-inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children.

A rare, severe and possibly life-threatening ailment, MIS-C usually develops in children weeks or months following mild or even asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.

According to a prior study by MGH and BWH scientists, SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the gut for weeks to months following an infection in cases of MIS-C.

When the virus remains in the gut, a compromised mucosal barrier can permit the entry of small viral particles such as the spike protein into the bloodstream.

This causes infections such as Covid-19 and in rare instances, the hyperinflammatory response that causes MIS-C.

Based on the findings, the researchers gave larazotide acetate to four children aged three to 17 years who are extremely ill with MIS-C, at MGH.

MGH claimed that the drug lowers the discharge of the zonulin molecule that causes greater gut permeability and a weakened mucosal barrier.

Furthermore, the team compared the clinical outcomes of these children treated with larazotide along with steroids and intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) to 22 children who were treated with steroids and IVIG only.

The children treated with four oral doses of larazotide acetate daily were found to have a substantially rapid gastrointestinal symptom resolution and a slightly briefer stay in the hospital.

In addition, the serum levels of the highly inflammatory spike protein linked to the virus declined faster in those who received the drug.

The treatment cleared the protein from the blood in a day in larazotide treated children versus ten days for those who did not receive the drug.

Developed for the reversal of intestinal permeability in celiac disease, larazotide was shown to cut down MIS-C symptoms in some children.

Presently, it is being evaluated in Phase III clinical trials as adjunctive therapy for celiac disease.