Cedars-Sinai participating in major clinical trial of possible treatment for COVID-19

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Cedars-Sinai announced Tuesday that it’s taking part in a trial of an experimental drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health sponsored the trial that has enlisted dozens of other medical and research centers around the world, including the University of California campuses in Los Angeles, Irvine and San Diego. 

The study will evaluate remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by Northern California-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc.

The FDA so far has not approved any drug to treat the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. While vaccine development is in the works, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that deployment will take “a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.”

Animal studies have shown remdesivir’s “promise in counteracting” previously known types of coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS, said Dr. Victor Tapson, the Cedars-Sinai site director for the trial. He also directs clinical research at the center’s Women’s Guild Lung Institute. 

Tapson said that some anecdotal cases have shown significant improvement in COVID-19 patients administered the drug, but that individual cases are not sufficient in proving its effectiveness.

“We need randomized, controlled studies to verify that remdesivir is both safe and effective,” Tapson said in a statement from Cedars-Sinai. “That is why this clinical trial is so important.”

The Southern California institution plans to enroll 30 hospitalized patients for the trial, with the first participant set to be signed up this week. 

The study, which already began in February, is estimated to enroll 440 participants worldwide and is expected to be completed in April 2023.

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