Clinical Trials For Promising COVID-19 Drug Underway In North Texas | KERA News

Clinical Trials For Promising COVID-19 Drug Underway In North Texas

Apr 13, 2020

Local clinical trials are underway for a promising COVID-19 treatment.  Remdesivir, an anti-viral medication that prevents the virus from replicating itself, is the center of clinical trials Baylor Scott and White hospital system is conducting.

KERA Vital Signs host Sam Baker talked about the research with the principal investigator, Dr. Robert Gottlieb.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

How Remdesivir Works

If you imagine you're putting down pieces of a train track, you can put a train track piece that, instead of being straight, ia just a little bit curved. The train stops and now the engine that is laying down the train tracks has to take away that broken train track, throw it out, and then continue back on.

So this virus, the novel coronavirus, is very good at editing that. If you give it a bent piece of rail, it'll take that and toss it into the trash and put down a new piece of rail. So it's one of a very few compounds that can actually trick the machinery into putting that piece of rail into place and then get stuck — and then the virus can't replicate itself. Remdesivir is one of the unique compounds that actually get stuck and it makes the replication complex stop them as tracks.

Use Against Other Viruses

It has been used against SARS, that's why it became such a good lead compound with the current epidemic. The original SARS epidemic, predominantly focused in Asia, was called SARS Coronavirus 1. The current epidemic is SARS coronavirus two, is very similar. We've studied SARS coronavirus type one and some similar viruses like the middle Eastern respiratory virus. MERS has also been studied both in small animals as well as larger animals. Remdesivir seems to work just fine in those cases.

Resarchers at Baylor Scott and White
Credit Baylor Scott and White

About The Clinical Trials

We have two trials:

Wonderful patients that have moderate symptoms where they're hospitalized. They may have shortness of breath and all of them have some evidence of pneumonia from the coronavirus, but their oxygen saturation looks relatively normal. Usually those patients are not considered sick enough to hospitalize. But in this case, we know that this is a different virus. These patients behave very differently and instead of being considered mild risk, they're considered moderate risk because they can become much sicker very quickly. And they require careful attention.

The other trial addresses patients clearly much sicker with an oxygen saturation of 94% or lower, who might need oxygen. These are patients that belong in the hospital for any other condition because they might not be on oxygen at home. They usually have a fever, cough and they may have other symptoms associated.

Any Pressure To Find A Treatment?

Well, I wouldn't say pressure. It's that every researcher, every nurse, every person in any role is a family member, is a friend, knows a patient or is vulnerable to becoming a patient themselves. It's a dedication that many people are doing it from the time they wake up until the time they collapse with exhaustion.

RESOURCES:

New clinical trials bring potential COVID-19 treatments to North Texas

Gilead turbocharges production of COVID-19 hopeful remdesivir 

Virologist Explains What The Coronavirus Does to Your Body That Makes It So Deadly

Engineered virus might be able to block coronavirus infections, mouse study shows