The Infectious Disease Division at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is the first center in New England to enroll patients in an international study of remdesivir, the antiviral drug with an aim to treat those afflicted with COVID-19.
The study’s principal investigator, Elizabeth Hohmann, MD, reports that because the drug is known to halt replication in other viruses, the hope is that the virus can work against COVID-19. She cautioned, “We don’t know how well it works in humans, but we are hopeful.”
A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with four patients already enrolled at MGH; it turns out those enrolled have a 50% chance of getting the drug. A total of 30 patients are enrolled nationally. MGH seeks to enroll up to 30-40 patients of the total for the entire clinical trial and hopes to reach 440. A total of 50 sites are participating in the study.
The trial protocol calls for a review of data every 50 participants who enroll in the trial. The hope is that after six weeks, study teams will obtain useful information, reports Dr. Hohmann.
Other Research associated with COVID-19 patients
Of course, research goes on at MGH involving COVID-19 patients, including the following:
· Testing of inhaled nitic oxide to improve breathing in COVID-19 patients with severely damaged lungs; using gas to effectively ‘kill’ coronavirus in the lungs in early infection
· Use of drugs such as tocilizumab (Acterma) that ramp down the immune response to mitigate late lung damage in severe COVID-19 patients, and decipher which patients would benefit most from the drug
· Determining what part of the immune system is activated in the virus and when; using such information to repurpose drugs to modulate or alter the trajectory and prevent severe disease; using this information to develop effective vaccines and quickly
· Investigators also have an interest in the study of biomarkers in those with varying degrees of illness to help doctors understand who might most benefit from specific standard medical interventions, and who can safely recover from home.
Medical Research Vital
Hohmann notes the vital importance of medical research to secure more knowledge and advance therapeutics. It is the patients who volunteer that make this even possible. In many ways, they are heroes.
Call to Action: Interested in learning more about activities at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and their response to COVID-19? See the link.