UIHC joins global trial in search of COVID-19 treatment

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City. CREDIT UIHC


By CBJ News Staff

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) has announced it is the first organization in Iowa participating in an international clinical trial for Remdesivir, believed to be the most promising drug available to treat COVID-19.

The trial, which is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the drug, is for hospitalized patients ages 12 and older who agree to join and who meet specific criteria. UIHC, which was approved to join the trial last week, has already enrolled patients in the effort, which includes two studies at more than 70 sites worldwide.

“It was amazing because it can take weeks or months to get all the approvals to begin a study, but this was done in a matter of three days,” said Dr. Dilek Ince, clinical associate professor of internal medicine – infectious diseases, who is leading the Iowa portion of the clinical trial. “Our university and our hospital have made everything to do with COVID-19 a priority. Everybody collaborated to get this going as soon as possible.”

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug that has been shown in laboratory testing to be effective for coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, which appeared in 2003 and 2012. It was also tested as a treatment for Ebola, but while safe, it was not effective against that disease.

Dr. Ince and her team are reviewing all patients admitted to UIHC with COVID-19 and will speak directly with those who meet the criteria to participate in the trial. Those who agree to participate will be randomized to receive the drug or a placebo solution for either five or 10 days.

Doctors are looking for evidence that the drug improves outcomes, including survival in patients with severe disease or shortening the duration of symptoms in those with less severe disease, and watching for side effects. They also are interested in whether the drug has an effect on viral shedding, which has implications for decreasing transmission of the disease between humans.

“An emergency like this clearly exemplifies how critical our research mission is,” said Dr. Brooks Jackson, UI’s vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, in a statement. “We are glad to be playing our part in finding ways to treat this disease and bringing these treatments to Iowans as soon as possible.”

Dr. Ince said preliminary results from earlier Remdesivir studies conducted in China are expected within the next 1-2 months. Gilead Sciences Inc., which developed Remdesivir, is funding the study and supplying the drug. CBJ