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New U of U trial aims to find effective COVID-19 treatment

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New U of U trial aims to find effective COVID-19 treatment (Photo: U of U Health)

A new clinical trial at University of Utah Health is aimed at finding an effective treatment for COVID-19.

For several weeks now, researchers have been studying the impacts of pairing two drugs to help treat patients. It’s part of a bigger study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health.

Patients can enroll to be part of the controlled study which involves Remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to helpful in treating COVID-19, and Interferon, a medication that modifies the response of a patient’s immune system.

“Interferon is a natural chemical that is produced by our cells and specifically by infected cells to stimulate the immune response to help fight infection,” Hannah Imlay explained. She’s a co-investigator in the trial.

We would all love to be able to reach into our back pockets and say, 'actually we do have something that may help you,'” Imlay said.

Interferon has been used to treat SARS CoV, also known as SARS and Hepatitis C.

“The hope is that Interferon is going to stimulate the immune response to take care of SARS CoV-2 and the associated infection before people get really sick,” she said.

The hope would be that Interferon would kickstart the immune system and work with the Remdesivir to fight back against the virus.

“This study is a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, which means there are two groups of patients, one who will get the study treatment, which is interferon and one who will get a placebo, so not the study treatment,” Imlay said.

Neither the patient nor the investigators know which patients receive the placebo or the interferon.

“I think this is super exciting. This is one of the best trials that’s going on right now,” Imlay said.

U of U Health will be accepting enrollees for the trial through the fall. From there, Imlay said she doesn’t expect results for at least two to three months.

The trial process is the best way we have to actually give something to people that is safe and effective,” she said. “It’s a slow process but there are a lot people doing the necessary work here and across the country, and that’s exciting.”