The University of Minnesota Medical School commenced a study to test remdesivir, the experimental drug originally developed for Ebola, to determine if it can be used on those hospitalized due to COVID-19. The university has been designated by the federal government as a regional treatment center for the COVID-19 test—covering Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the drug appeared to positively affect a small group of Americans who contracted the coronavirus aboard a cruise ship and were treated in Japan. Although not effective in treating Ebola, thus far, none of the 14 cruise ship passengers has died reports the Star Tribune, even though many were reported critically ill.

Ongoing Clinical Trials

As recently reported by TrialSite News, of the at least 88 ongoing clinical trials worldwide, Remdesivir is involved with at least five of these studies in America and China. The Star Tribune reported that Gilead spokesman Chris Ridley confirmed the Remdesivir trials via email on Friday.

University of Minnesota Regional Treatment Center

The university has been designed by the federal government as a regional treatment center for COVID-19 studies—covering not only Minnesota, but also Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. The forthcoming remdesivir study is one of three clinical trials that the University of Minnesota will conduct using existing drugs to address COVID-19. In addition to the Ebola drug remdesivir, the University of Minnesota will investigate high blood pressure and malaria drugs to assess effectiveness in COVID-19 patients. The Medical School’s dean is Dr. Jakub Tolar.

Other Studies at the University of Minnesota

Chloroquine Study

One of the studies, reports Dean Tolar, is a “post-exposure prophylaxis” trial. University of Minnesota investigators will randomize patients to receive either the malaria drug chloroquine or a placebo. Although the university is funding the study’s commencement, they are seeking financial support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to some journal articles for COVID-19 focused clinical trials in China, chloroquine phosphate evidence some “apparent efficacy and acceptable safety.”

Losartan

Another clinical trial centers on the use of the high blood pressure drug losartan on COVID-19 positive patients. They will test this drug on those individuals with mild symptoms. Some physicians suggest that losartan could possibly reduce the risks associated with deadly infections associated with COVID-19. The University of Minnesota clinical research team is applying to the NIH for funding while they are still developing the protocol—they hope to submit to the trial design to the institutional review board by next week, reports the StarTribune.

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