New clinical trial adds multiple sclerosis drug to boost COVID-19 patients' immune system

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A multiple sclerosis drug could potentially boost the immune system of COVID-19 patients, helping them fight the virus and recover faster.

"This is the third stage of what's known as the adaptive clinical trial which is an NIH sponsored trial looking at various interventions to treat COVID-19," said Dr. Sarah Doernberg, UCSF Medical Center, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases.

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This worldwide trial is aiming for 1,000 COVID-19 patients. The majority of patients will be selected from the U.S.

UCSF's principal investigator Dr. Doernberg is hopeful about adding the drug, Interferon, to the trial. This drug has been used in the past to treat multiple sclerosis.

"Perhaps given the drug would help the immune system clear the virus," said Dr. Doernberg.

As part of the trial half of the enrolled COVID-19 patients will receive Remdesivir + a placebo. The other half will receive Remdesivir + Interferon.

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UCSF's infectious disease Dr. Peter Chin-Hong has been studying two clinical trials that used Interferon in the UK and Hong Kong to treat COVID-19 patients successfully.

"Half of the patients would get this under the skin injection over four days. Every other day. And half the patients would get a pretend over the skin that will be placebo. But they will all get Remdesevir," said Chin-Hong.

Dr. Chin-Hong is hopeful that if the results are effective more people will have access to faster treatment.

"The other pro about Interferon beta is that it's readily available. If the study shows that is effective then people can go out and get it."

The results of this trial are projected for late fall.

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