Guardian Article: UK launches trial of drug to tackle fatigue in long Covid patients

November 3, 2021

An article in the The Guardian covers the trial of a drug that targets muscle function in Long COVID patients.


The first trial of a drug to target the fatigue and muscle weakness experienced by more than half of people with long Covid has been launched in the UK. It is also the first drug trial in long Covid patients who were not hospitalised during their initial infection.

The drug, called AXA1125, targets cellular power plants called mitochondria, which it is thought could be dysfunctional in the subset of long Covid patients with severe fatigue. If successful, it could pave the way for similar trials in patients with other forms of post-viral fatigue, including myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

Dr Shepherd comments

I spoke to Linda Geddes at the Guardian about this Long Covid clinical trial yesterday. I have also been in touch with the mitochondrial research group that we fund in Oxford – Dr Karl Morten and colleagues.

The Guardian has produced an interesting report about the use of this experimental drug from America called AXA1125, which is now being assessed by researchers in Oxford as a possible form of treatment for fatigue in Long Covid.

As we keep reporting, there are important clinical and pathological overlaps between Long Covid and ME/CFS – one of which is known as mitochondrial dysfunction.

Mitochondria are the vital battery like structures that create energy at a cellular level and the MEA has been funding research into mitochondrial dysfunction in ME/CFS in both Oxford (Dr Karl Morten) and Newcastle (Professor Julia Newton) for many years.

If this clinical trial demonstrates that this drug does help to reduce fatigue in Long Covid there could be important implications for people with ME/CFS.

It is also interesting to note that mitochondrial function in the AXA 1125 study will be looked at using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) – as I used my own skeletal muscle in a study we carried out in Oxford back in the early 1980s with MRS to demonstrate the presence of mitochondrial dysfunction in ME/CFS. This research was published in The Lancet back in 1984!

More information on AXA 1125

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd

Updated 04/11/21 – This 20 minute video is a well worth watching where Dr Raman, who is carrying out the drug treatment trial in Oxford, describes her research interest in Long Covid. Please see Youtube video below:

Dr Shepherd says: “Dr Raman clearly understands the clinical and pathological overlaps between the long Covid and ME/CFS.”

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