COVID-19 Update - Imperial Valley Press

EL CENTRO — El Centro Regional Medical Center announced Monday it will participating in another clinical trial involving a potential therapy for COVID-19 patients.

The study is a collaboration with University of California San Diego School of Medicine involving use of ACE inhibitors.

The hospital said the trial will study whether ACE inhibitors, used for treating high blood pressure, heart failure and diabetic kidney disease, might also reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, lowering instances of ICU admission and the necessity of using mechanical ventilators.

The full trial will be coordinated by UC San Diego and is expected be done at sites throughout the country, including California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Texas and Illinois.

Approximately 560 participants will be recruited to participate in the randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trial, a minimum of 30 ECRMC patients will participate in the study.

A double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical study is one in which neither the participant nor the researcher knows who is getting the drug treatment and who is getting the placebo in a controlled group.

Candidates are those who are either presenting with COVID-19 symptoms in the emergency department or are currently hospitalized with the disease. The study is expected to last a year.

Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine and director of NAFLD Research Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine, will be the study’s principal investigator.

“There are no approved or proven treatments yet for COVID-19, which has infected millions worldwide and killed nearly 438,000 with the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight,” Loomba said. “We’re investigating whether drugs called ACE inhibitors might be part of the remedy.

“Our hypothesis is that ACE inhibitor drugs help keep the RAAS (renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system) system in balance and functioning optimally,” he added. “SARS infections create an imbalance, triggering feedback loops that promote inflammation and injury – a vicious cycle of pathological consequences that wrack the lungs, heart and other organs, which can kill.”

Prospective patient participants are over the age of 18 and presenting in the emergency department or currently hospitalized. Virtual consent via videoconference or telephone will be required.

“Studies like these are going to help us save lives,” said Dr. Andrew T. LaFree, ECRMC’s principal investigator for this trial. “Being a part of clinical trials like these is important to understanding COVID-19 and its treatments. We are pleased to be able to provide local data to help continue to research treatment of this disease.”

ECRMC noted that these medical trials will be conducted by professionals in a controlled environment. The medications will be administered to participants by physicians who will monitor and evaluate the patients to ensure their safety.

This is the second drug trial ECRMC has announced for COVID-19 within a week. On Thursday, the hospital announced it is participating in a clinical trial for the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab. That drug, which is an approved treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, has shown promise in treating patients who have developed or are at risk of developing serious lung damage from COVID-19 infections.

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