LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas psychiatrist says he has a theory about how to kill the coronavirus.
"I'm an MD and I have an idea how to control it," said Dr. Muhammed Hyder, who practices addiction medicine and psychiatry.
Infectious diseases like COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus, are not his specialty, but he says he developed a theory after reading about a famous psychiatrist's work from 100 years ago.
LEARNING FROM HISTORY
That doctor was trying to treat severe mental illness caused by syphilis.
"The bacteria causing syphilis cannot sustain high heat," explained Dr. Hyder. "So when [the doctor] put [the syphilis patient] in a high fever, it roasted those bacteria in the brain and the recovery started."
Back then, the doctor generated heat using malaria.
EXPOSING PATIENTS TO RADIATION
Dr. Hyder believes you may be able to kill the coronavirus by exposing patients to radiation.
He's not the only one thinking along those lines.
"They've done studies between 1905 and the 40s where they've tested giving radiation and use its anti-inflammatory effects," said Dr. Andrew Cohen, a radiation oncologist with the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.
Dr. Cohen says radiation has worked in the past for some illnesses, and trials recently started for treating COVID-19.
"They're giving a low dose of radiation therapy similar to what we might give in the office," said Dr. Cohen. "About half the dose we might give in one treatment for someone with cancer."
Researchers are hoping the radiation will reduce inflammation in the lungs, helping patients get off ventilators and ultimately on the road to recovery.
But they're a long way from publishing any results.
Dr. Cohen also warns, radiation therapy won't prevent people from catching the coronavirus. It would only be useful for treating those already with the virus.
COMPLICATIONS FROM RADIATION
The therapy also comes with a major drawback.
"If you give radiation therapy to large populations of people with benign disease, over a long period of time, some of them will develop complications from the radiation," said Dr. Cohen. "Even as bad as other cancers developing."
It's a risk that he says some patients and their families are willing to take during current trials.
If it proves to be effective, Dr. Cohen says radiation therapy will only be used for the most severe cases.
"These patients are very sick right now. They're on the verge of dying. Some of them don't have the opportunity to live beyond this episode. So it's worth it in the short run," says Dr. Cohen.