University of Iowa Healthcare doing clinical trial for COVID-19 treatment

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWQC) -- Some Iowans are now undergoing a clinical trial that doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics are hoping will be a treatment for novel coronavirus.

(MGN)

The hospital is one of 70 sites worldwide doing a clinical trial. All of the sites combined will enroll 1,600 patients in a study of moderate disease severity and 2,400 patients in a study of severe disease.

"We have been enrolling patients now for ten days. We have not had any major problems with drug side effects. We are doing the best we can for our patients, " said Dr. Dilek Ince.

Dr. Dilek Ince, clinical associate professor of internal medicine - infectious diseases, is leading the Iowa portion of the clinical trial. She said the antiviral drug they are using is Remdesivir.

"is an infusion it is given through the IV. The trial is only for hospitalized patients because of this reason," she said.

Remdesivir has been lab-tested and shown to be effective for MERS and SARS. Which are in the same family as COVID-19. It was also tested as a treatment for Ebola in human studies. Those studies demonstrated its safety in humans, but not effective against that disease.

The same drug has been used in COVID-19 patients in China. Doctors are now waiting for the data analysis.

For people to participate in the trial, they must be at least 12 years old, test positive for coronavirus, be hospitalized, show evidence of an infection in the lungs as shown in imaging, no underlying significant kidney or liver dysfunction, and not pregnant or breastfeeding.

Doctors will look for evidence that the drug improves survival in patients with severe disease or shortening the duration of symptoms in those with less severe disease.

"The hope is that the drug is going to be active in the treatment of coronavirus infections. It could really turn the tide around, but we need to wait for the data analysis from these trials to know if it works or not," she said.

Dr. Ince says being part of this trial fulfills the hospital's mission of providing the best care for patients and enhancing research and science through clinical research.

"There is no known effective treatment for coronavirus infection and since this drug looked promising on the lab conditions. We thought we wanted to be involved in this trial and provide it as an option," she said.

A trial that will hopefully save lives. Gilead Sciences Inc. developed Remdesivir and is funding the study.