UCSF researchers test new COVID-19 drug


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Researchers at UCSF are testing drugs that could ease symptoms of coronavirus and keep those infected out of the hospital.

Promising developments in the fight against coronavirus — Local scientists are studying a potential drug that could lessen symptoms of COVID-19 and keep people out of the hospital.

UCSF infectious disease expert and principal investigator, Dr. Annie Luetkemeyer, and a team of researchers are looking for volunteers to test the drug with 3 objectives in mind.

“One, we’d like to shorten people’s symptoms. Two, we’d like to be able to keep them out of the hospital. Most people don’t need to be hospitalized, but when they do they can be quite ill. It would be really nice to identify people early and treat them. And three it would be terrific if providing early therapy could help to break the cycle of transmission,” Dr. Luetkemeyer said. 

She says the drug will be administered through an IV, as a one-time infusion, and similar to the way Tamiflu reduces symptoms of influenza, the goal is for the drug to reduce symptoms and the duration of COVID-19.

The drug, which does not yet have a name, is an out-patient treatment designed to help COVID-19 patients who are in early or mild stages and have less severe symptoms.

It’s a monoclonal antibody which is an antibody created in a lab specifically designed to target a particular virus.

Monoclonal antibodies have been successfully used in treating diseases like HIV, cancer and Ebola.

Pharmaceutical companies are racing to get treatment drug options FDA approved, most of which have primarily been for critically ill patients.

Dr. Luetekemeyer says having a drug like the one she’s developing is key in the fight against COVID-19.

“We don’t have any therapy for people that are approved for people who are sick but don’t require hospitalization. So it’s really difficult to receive a diagnosis of COVID and be told ‘hey I know you feel lousy, go home, monitor your symptoms, isolate, wear a mask and come back if you feel worse.’ I think we really need outpatient therapies,” Dr. Luetkemeyer said. 

Anyone can sign up to volunteer as long as you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 7 to 10 days and currently have symptoms.

CLICK HERE to get more information.

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