SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — While a coronavirus vaccine is at least a year away, some existing drugs are being looked at as a way to keep people from getting sick and preventing death.

“From our experience no one is too ill to benefit from Leronlimab,” Dr. Jay Lalezari said. “We have had the sickest of the sick, at deaths door, turnaround.”

San Francisco medical researcher Dr. Jay Lalezari is a chief science officer at Cytodyn. For the last 10 years the company has been developing the drug Leronlimab to treat HIV. 

Now they have found those who have used the drug on an emergency basis to treat COVID-19 patients have had success in reversing the cytokine storm where in the body’s immune system ends up flooding the lungs making them unable to to exchange oxygen.  

“The drug is affecting cell trafficking and cell function to quiet to cytokine storm,” Dr. Lalezari said.

Randomized clinical studies still must take place and that could be another three months. 

In the meantime, clinical trials are underway to see if colchicine, an anti-inflammatory tablet that has been around for decades to treat Gout, will help COVID-19 patients.

“Instead of waiting until the patient gets to the hospital and is very sick, the thought is is you intervene early with colchicine,” UCSF Cardiologist Dr. Priscilla Hsue said. “Will you have ability to prevent that patient from going into the hospital and having downstream clinical progression?”

UCSF is now looking for additional people who have the virus to join the trial to see if colchicine does what they hope.

“If this medication is beneficial, it can be rapidly ramped up using the same design and even in countries with limited resources who don’t have access to fancy resources and fancy medication,” Dr. Hsue said.

Both sets of researchers are hopeful the drugs they are working on will be a game changer for those who get COVID-19.

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