HOUSTON – As COVID-19 continues to spread, experts are constantly working to find possible treatments. This week, we’ve learned about two different trials going on in Houston.
First Trial: Arthritis drug trial at LBJ Hospital
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston are working on a new COVID-19 clinical trial. The clinical trial is enrolling patients at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. They are using a drug used to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis called Canakinumab.
Right now the trial is only for certain COVID-19 patients, but Dr. Gabriel Aisenberg, MD, UTHealth said ““We are hopeful that this will work.”
Who can take part in LBJ COVID-19 Trial
Aisenberg said eligible participants must “have a positive test for COVID-19. They have to have pneumonia/ They have to have low oxygen, and they have to have indirect markers of inflammation going on in the body.”
“Not everybody with COVID-19 will develop inflammation to the lung,” Aisenberg said. “Some of them do so in such an extensive way, that the oxygen in the blood starts dropping.”
Canakinumab blocks the production of IL-1 protein, which could prevent a possible deadly overreaction of the immune system in COVID-19 patients. The hope is the drug will help with inflammation in the lungs and patients won’t need to be put on a ventilator.
“If it works in this type of inflammation, it may work in COVID-19 inflammation too,” he said.
It could be months before researchers know the results of this trial.
“With the number of cases going up and the severity of some of them, we want to make sure we have access to medications,” said Aisenberg. “I’m proud to say we are doing so in a county hospital so we don’t deprive our most vulnerable population (of) these opportunities.”
2nd trial: Gout drug trial seeking COVID-19 patients
Another clinical trial started this week in Houston. Spring Clinical Research joined a study evaluating Colchicine, a common drug for gout, as a potential treatment to reduce the severity of illness, severe complications and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Non-hospitalized patients over 40 years old who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 can participate for free by calling the hotline at 1-877-536-6837. ColCorona is an at-home, contact-less clinical study approved by health authorities that are designed to have a minimal burden on patients and one of the few current studies of COVID-19 infection in which non-hospitalized individuals can participate.
There are several COVID-19 trials going on right now in Houston including a stem cell study at UT Health. As doctors study the Novel Coronavirus, they’re hoping stem cells might help reverse the deadliest complications such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome or ARDS.