SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – LSU Health Shreveport is conducting another kind of clinical trial in the fight against COVID-19 that has the potential to save lives.

Researchers are screening patients for the trial that uses a long-time studied gas that can actually kill the virus. 

LSUHS is one out of three institutions in the country testing how the colorless gas known as Nitric Oxide can help patients with COVID-19. Nitric Oxide has been used for the past 25 years to treat newborns in neonatal care and studies show it helped patients during the SARS outbreak.

“What we’re so excited about is this, it’s FDA approved, a gas that’s been around forever. Almost any hospital of any size already has the ventilator, already has the gas and if this is something that does work it could start being applied immediately,” said Keith Scott M.D. Professor of Medicine Pediatrics and Surgery LSUHS.

Doctor Scott said the gas works in two critical ways in high doses: when inhaled it can kill the coronavirus and help oxygen flow to the lungs. “People are actually dying from lung failure. So this directly applies, this virucidal directly to the lungs itself,” Scott said.

Nitric Oxide is also naturally produced in the body in small amounts. 

“We have it at various micro levels in our body and it regulates blood flow and regulates the caliber of the blood vessels so we make it naturally and we’re just giving it in very, very high doses so it does become virucidal,” Scott said. 

The patients must qualify for the trial that’s studying two different groups.  

The first being very sick patients on ventilators who will be given Nitric Oxide continuously, Then less sick patients who will receive higher dosages for shorter amounts of time. 

Scott said it’s too early to speak on results, but it’s very promising. 

“We’re really not wanting to say anything until we test it, but we know it biologically makes sense. Not only does it kill the virus but it also does nice things with the lungs because it goes to areas of the lungs that are a little more healthy and actually increases blood supply to that area and gets better oxygen delivery,” Scott said. 

He described it as not being a silver bullet. But another tool being utilized in the battle against COVID-19.