University of Queensland Seeks to Repurpose HIV & Anti-Malaria Drug in Large COVID-19—focused Clinical Trial Down Under

Mar 18, 2020 | Australia, Chloroquine, Coronavirus, COVID-19, University of Queensland

University of Queensland Seeks to Repurpose HIV & Anti-Malaria Drug in Large COVID-19—focused Clinical Trial Down Under

The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research has reported they are close to moving a couple COVID-19 vaccine targets—both repurposed older drugs—to clinical trials by the end of March 2020. Professor David Paterson reports that his lab is looking at one HIV-focused drug and another, chloroquine, which was developed to treat malaria. Laboratory evidence and some progress out of China has influenced this research team’s efforts. But the investigators Down Under employ rigorous, systematic, and methodical clinical trials to verify the data.

A New Lease on Life

The focus on these two drugs potentially bring a new lease on life as their use has largely beem superseded by a newer generation of therapies, reports in Australia. Professor Paterson at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research reports that there is some evidence supporting these candidates. For example, in one case, one of the medications was given to some of the first people tested positive for COVID-19 and resulted in a complete recovery.  

Can Chloroquine be used to Target COVID-19?

The Australian team looked at some observations in China where the China National Center for Biotechnology Development (Ministry of Science and Technology) reported that the anti-malarial drug can be used as part of an effective antiviral therapeutic treatment targeting patients with COVID-19. Now Professor Paterson and others seek to collect more “hard evidence” and swiftly move to a large-scale clinical trial Down Under.

Interestingly, Stanford University School of Medicine along with University of Alabama recently generated a report highlighting the potential use of chloroquine against COVID-19.

Reports of Misinformation

On the other hand, misinformation about the use of chloroquine is rife as evidenced by a recent AFP Fact Check highlighting widespread misleading or “Fake” news. For example, claims were widely shared in Nigeria that chloroquine was “effective against coronavirus” and cured “12,552 patients in China.” Unfortunately, very bad people are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to attempt to gain financial advantage. All—from researchers to citizens consuming news—need to be on guard, critical, and as methodical as possible in understanding the truth.

The Chloroquine & Remdesivir Combination

Professor Paterson also noted that some potential evidence, recently published by Chinese researchers, points out that remdesivir and chloroquine “are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV infection in vitro.” The Chinese researchers noted that these compounds have been used in humans safely and that they should be assessed in clinical trials. This research got the attention of the team at University of Queensland.

Early COVID-19 Data out of China

Professor Paterson reported that although promising, the data originating out of China needs to be questioned and validated in clinical research. He believes that there are important findings and he wants to validate them on the ground in Australia. However, he noted that as Wuhan, China, was the epicenter of the crisis, as events unfolded there was quite a bit of chaos and, hence, the data gathered wasn’t done so “in a very controlled way” as for understandable reasons, local health systems were stretched and a methodical and orderly research apparatus hadn’t yet necessarily materialized. Of course, TrialSite News has observed a considerable research and development imperative manifest out of China since however, Professor Paterson’s point is that the data produced in the first days must be more systematically validated and verified.

Large Clinical Trial Considered

Paterson reported to that they seek to plan “a large clinical trial across Australia, looking at 50 hospitals” and they will compare one of the repurposed drugs versus the other (e.g. the HIV drug and the anti-malarial drug). Paterson reports, “We want to give Australians the absolute best treatment rather than just someone’s guesses or someone’s anecdotal experiences from a few people.” This is understandable. They hope to commence clinical trials by March.

The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research

The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research focuses primarily on four areas, including 1) Clinical Neuroscience, 2) Fertility, 3) Infectious Diseases, and 4) Cancer. Staffed by a high quality group of clinical research professionals, this research center produces $85 million per annum in research-based income.  

The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) was founded in 2008 when the University of Queensland, in partnership with the Queensland Government and a U.S.-based philanthropic organization known as Atlantic Philanthropies, developed the $70 million UQ Centre for Clinical Research at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. UQCCR offers state-of-the-art facilities and brings together leading health professionals, clinicians and scientists from around the globe for “patient-oriented research.” See the UQCCR 10-year report

Lead Research/Investigator

David Paterson, Professor, University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research

Call to Action: Interested in learning more about Dr. Paterson’s plans? See his contact information. Need help? Contact TrialSite News, and we can potentially arrange for introductions.



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