Rush University Medical Center opened up enrollment for the HERO-HCQ clinical trial to determine whether hydroxychloroquine is better than a placebo in preventing COVID-19 in healthy people working in a health care setting. With its full title as the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes of Hydroxychloroquine (HERO-HCQ) Trial, up to 15,000 people are recruited to participate from the HERO Registry, an online community of thousands of people working in health care, which supports this and future trials. Sponsored and designed by Duke University’s Adrian Hernandez, Chicago’s Rush is now engaged.
Susanna Naggie, the Principal Investigator for the HERO-HCQ Trial and Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, reported that “There is a lot of interest in testing this drug as a preventive agent for COVID-19, because it appeared to block SARS-CoV-2 from entering cells in lab studies.” Of course, it has come to light that there are potential risks with hydroxychloroquine; hence the study quest is to find “solid evidence” and sufficient “data” to help “guide decision-making.”
Designed and sponsored by Duke University’s Adrian Hernandez, the double-blind, placebo-controlled study involves up to 15,000 health care workers at risk for being exposed to COVID-19. Known as the HERO-HCQ, this is the first clinical trial to be offered from the HERO registry. Participating clinical trial sites are part of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute or PCORnet.
Hydroxychloroquine is an oral prescription medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of malaria and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and arthritis. Study participants will receive nasal swab tests for COVID-19 and blood tests to detect the presence of COVID-19 virus antibodies at the beginning of the study and after four weeks. Researchers will also collect information about participants’ health and ask them to fill out quality-of-life surveys.
PCORnet has awarded up to $50 million for the study.
Rush University Participation
Dr. Yoona Rhee is the Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and the Principal Investigator of the study at Rush University Medical Center, where the team plans on recruiting at least 375 people into the study. All people working in a health care setting who provides care, supplies, or services to patients at Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital—from nurses, therapists, physicians, emergency room responders, food service workers, environmental services workers, interpreters, and transporters—are invited to join the HERO Registry to determine their interest in the HERO-HCQ Trial. For those seeking to participate, they must answer “yes” to a question determining interest in being contacted about participation in a randomized clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine.
Designed to Act on Data
Unlike typical studies that take months to collect and analyze data, researchers will analyze data from the study every two weeks. “As soon as we have evidence of the effectiveness of the drug, the lead investigators will conclude the trial and make a recommendation based on whether it proves to be a beneficial preventative therapy,” Rhee said.
About Rush University Medical Center
A nationally ranked academic medical center located in Chicago, this is the flagship hospital for the larger Rush University System for Health and serves the primary teaching hospital in affiliation with Rush University. Rush University Medical Center offers 664 patient beds at its 14-story, 830,000 square foot location on Chicago’s Near West Side. With nearly 10,000 employees representing over $550 million turnovers, in 2019, the US News and World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center as the third-best hospital in both Chicago and Illinois.
Lead Research/Investigator at Rush University Medical Center
Dr. Yoona Rhee, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Rush Medical College.
Call to Action: If you work in a health care setting in the Chicago area, consider learning more about the HERO research program. To join, visit https://heroesresearch.org. To understand current hydroxychloroquine evidence and why HERO-HCQ is important, read this fact sheet.