Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois' health system are testing Ebola drug remdesivir in a clinical trial of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Cook County Health is also treating hospitalized patients with remdesivir in two clinical trials sponsored by the drug manufacturer, Gilead Sciences. Cook County is treating patients with moderate COVID-19 in one study and patients with severe COVID-19 in another.
The antiviral drug has been found in animal models to have antiviral activity against coronaviruses, Northwestern said in a statement.
Northwestern said the first patient to get the drug at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is an 89-year-old man in intensive care.
"I think it's fantastic this trial is off the ground," principal investigator Dr. Babafemi Taiwo, chief of infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine, said in the statement. "It puts something in our hands that we can investigate in a rigorous fashion in the quest for therapies that may be effective and widely adopted to treat the pandemic."
The University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital said it activated the trial March 25 and is studying whether the drug provides clinical benefits to patients, compared to a placebo.
Participants in the trial receive either a placebo drug or remdesivir intravenously once a day for a maximum of 10 days, the Northwestern statement said. If a patient recovers sooner, the treatment is stopped.
At least 50 sites will participate in the international clinical trial of 440 patients, which is sponsored by a division of the National Institutes of Health. The study is an adaptive, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, according to the NIH.