Duke University taking part in national study testing drug to treat coronavirus


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Duke University is part of a national study to test an antiviral drug that doctors hope will treat coronavirus.

When patients who are severely ill with COVID-19 are admitted to Duke Hospital, they may be eligible to test the antiviral drug Remdesivir. It’s been tested in the past on people with Ebola and in animal studies of SARS and MERS.

With no proven treatments for COVID-19, Dr. Cameron Wolfe said he’s hopeful.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “I can’t say we know exactly because this is not a fully approved drug yet for this, but this is probably the furthest along the way, in terms of studies that have taken place so far.”

Duke is one of several hospitals across the country testing the drug in a study run by the National Institutes of Health.

The drug won’t go to every coronavirus patient.

“This is a drug that’s designed to be studied in patients who are sick enough to require hospitalization,” Wolfe said.

It also won’t be given to everyone in the study. Some will receive a placebo so researchers can determine whether the drug is actually working. They will also look at side effects and determine whether it is safe.

“You do want to make sure it’s safe,” Wolfe said. “We are all, I think, clamoring and hopeful that there are options here that are going to prove to be effective, but we don’t want to put the horse in front of the cart and find that we miss important safety signals. That’s the other part of this. It’s really crucial.”

Wolf said the study comes at an important time for North Carolina because he expects to see cases continue to increase in the coming days weeks. The study is ready to begin immediately.

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