June 2020

COVID-19 recovery trials: Dexamethasone and standardisation

Declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March, the novel coronavirus has now infected nearly 8 million people globally and sent researchers, scientists, doctors and healthcare professionals around the world on a mission to develop and discover treatments for the disease.

Much progress has been made in just a few months, and most recently, research has suggested that one drug in particular has reduced the risk of deaths of ventilated coronavirus patients by one third.

The drug, dexamethasone, has undergone study by a team of scientists at Oxford University as part of their Recovery trial. It is a corticosteroid (steroid) medication which is mostly used for its anti-inflammatory effects treating a variety of conditions like eczema, arthritis and asthma. While it has had positive effects for patients on ventilators, it has had no effect on patients that don’t have respiratory problems.

Chief investigator on the study, Prof Peter Horby, described the team’s work as “a major breakthrough”, but the researchers also stressed that people should not buy the drug to take at home. It’s vital that doctors and healthcare professionals make those decisions with as much information as possible.

There still remains research and work to be done to fully understand the drug’s effects and give healthcare professionals all of the tools they need in the fight against COVID-19. In order to study dexamethasone, reference materials are required, which allow labs to know with certainty the material and purity of the material they are using.

LGC supplies laboratories with certified reference materials, produced in accordance with ISO 17034, which specifies general requirements for the competence and consistent operation of reference material producers. Dexamethasone reference materials are likewise accredited to ISO standards and comes with a Certificate of Analysis.

By using trusted reference materials, scientists in the labs can focus on their research with peace of mind that they can rely on the quality of our products.