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US Clinical trials on coronavirus drugs may take only months, researcher says

23:40  28 march  2020
23:40  28 march  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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Clinical trials often can take years, Schacker said , but these may take less time in part because the process of finding patients to participate is happening quickly. A high amount of interest in coronavirus treatment research is helping in recruiting participants, Schacker said .

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia hope to start human trials by the end of this month to see if the coronavirus can be stopped by drugs made for Public health officials say it will still take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine – despite human trials beginning.

An infectious disease specialist leading three clinical trials into treatments for coronavirus said he expects the work to go quickly.

a man and a woman looking at the camera: Image: Researchers set up new labs to help fight coronavirus at the University of Minnesota © Craig Lassig Image: Researchers set up new labs to help fight coronavirus at the University of Minnesota

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"If everything goes according to plan, I am talking months, not years," for completion of the trials, Dr. Timothy Schacker, vice dean for research at the University of Minnesota's medical school, told NBC News.

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"There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that's remdesivir," Bruce Gilead Sciences also said earlier this month that it has been working with Chinese health authorities Gilead Sciences is not the only drug firm hoping to find a successful treatment for the coronavirus .

Initially only short term responses will be collected, as the study will take less months than usual Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said : ' Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that 'Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans.

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Clinical trials often can take years, Schacker said, but these may take less time in part because the process of finding patients to participate is happening quickly.

A high amount of interest in coronavirus treatment research is helping in recruiting participants, Schacker said. In addition, researchers are using the internet and social media to get the word out.

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His teams' trials are trying to answer three questions, he said: Can you prevent a person from getting infected? Once a person has the coronavirus, can you prevent them from getting more sick? And, lastly, once a person is sick, is there a treatment to fight the infection?

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Before researchers can begin human trials , they must have a firm understanding of the pathogen U.S. health officials are fast-tracking work on a coronavirus vaccine. Fauci said Tuesday that the Fauci said a vaccine may not solve "problems in the next couple of months but it certainly would be

All of these clinical trials are still not completed, so no conclusions have been reached on the safety Animal studies have suggested the drug may be harmful for pregnant women, with it linked to birth The drug is also being trialled on coronavirus patients in China and at the University of Nebraska.

To address the first question, the researchers are looking for people exposed to someone known to be infected and giving them hydroxychloroquine.

"We are giving the drug to see if we can prevent them from getting infected," he said.

Researchers at the school hope to enroll as many as 1,500 people who have had some contact with COVID-19 patients but who are not infected.

a man standing in a kitchen preparing food: Image: Researchers set up new labs to help fight coronavirus at the University of Minnesota © Craig Lassig Image: Researchers set up new labs to help fight coronavirus at the University of Minnesota

The trial will be randomized, meaning that some subjects will be given placebos, Schacker said.

Two other studies are also in the works. One will look at whether the blood-pressure drug Losartan "can slow progression in early patients who are not very sick," Schacker said.

A third clinical trial will look at the impact of remdesivir, a drug that was widely promoted for treating Ebola but which failed to show any significant benefit. It has shown some promise against COVID-19 in laboratory settings.

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This may take several months or longer. Researchers have discovered that this drug is effective at fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus in studies done in test tubes. At least 10 clinical trials are currently looking at the potential use of chloroquine as an option for combating the novel coronavirus .

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"It was put into this large clinical trial, so we have up and running as well," he said.

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