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Intermountain leading global trial to help sickest COVID-19 patients

Posted at 5:10 PM, Apr 28, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, the coronavirus is still around and while it remains, a doctor and researcher at Intermountain Healthcare said researchers must continue to search for cures.

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Right now, Intermountain Healthcare is helping lead a global study to help treat critically ill patients. Dr. Samuel Brown is the principal investigator of the Phase 3 trial called ACTIV-3 Critical Care.

“So far, we have been struggling to find therapies that will work for the sickest of the sick. The people who are on life support treatments because their lungs are failing,” he said.

As Brown points out, work is still needed to be done to help those who are on life support. Most patients who die from the virus have acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, which is an extremely dangerous lung condition.

“On average, the typical person infected with COVID has a nasty cold and gets better. That’s on average, and if it were not so transmissible, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But, unfortunately, it is very transmissible.

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This new global trial will test two different drugs to hopefully help treat the patients. Participants will randomly receive one of the potential treatments or a placebo.

“There is a strong body of previous research that supports the use of these agents in ARDS, which is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality,” said Gary H. Gibbons, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “Not only is this an important trial, in terms of potential new treatments for COVID-19, but it could open new understanding into the repair of damaged lungs following ARDS.”

Brown is coordinating with scientists at study sites throughout the world.

“As clinicians, we’re in great need of treatments for this group of patients. The hope is that one of the two drugs will be effective in helping these patients, but that’s what needs to be determined through these trials,” said Dr. Brown.

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There is no exact timeline for when conclusive results could come out of the trial.

“It depends on how many patients have COVID in the places where we are able to offer the trial to patients,” he said.

The study will start small and then will grow to include more patients. Right now, both Intermountain and University of Utah Health are participating in the trial.

Patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, require oxygen and have acute respiratory failure may be eligible to participate.