UK launches clinical trial to look at new ways to treat COVID-19

Posted at 10:10 PM, May 06, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Leaders from the University of Kentucky are taking part in a clinical trial to learn how they could treat patients with COVID-19 in the state.

“We're looking at a patient who's sitting at home and we're trying to prevent them from having to come to the hospital. Keep them well at home. Or a patient who is non-critically ill and in the hospital and preventing them from needing to go to the ICU and for ventilation,” said Dr. Zachary Porterfield, one of the study’s leaders.

The trial will take a closer look at azithromycin, ivermectin, and camostat mesylate. Those drugs could inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The medications will be tested along with the addition of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

“If we come away only knowing that hydroxychloroquine is not very effective. That is also helpful because we can expose less people to something that's futile,” said Dr. Susanne Arnold.

The first patients have already enrolled in this clinical trial. Researchers are still recruiting eligible volunteers who are interested in joining.

The trial gives researchers the ability to test multiple medications rapidly to identify the most promising therapies for COVID-19 patients. The trial is only for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have not developed severe symptoms that would require progression to ICU care. Patients must also have at least one high-risk feature, including hypertension, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, have an underlying heart condition, or be over the age of 50.

Researchers started enrolling patients the first week in May and plan to enroll 240 patients throughout the study.

The UK trial will be among the first to include camostat mesylate, a protease inhibitor researchers say has been used for 40 years to treat symptoms of chronic pancreatitis and postoperative esophageal reflux in Japan.