UAB hospital selected as study site for potential coronavirus treatment

A technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for testing.

A technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island.John Minchillo | The Associated Press

The University of Alabama at Birmingham will join more than 70 sites around the world as a trial site for the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which was developed as a potential coronavirus treatment through research at UAB.

Leaders from the National Institutes of Health highlighted the drug’s potential earlier this month in a visit to UAB. Researchers initially developed it as a potential treatment for Ebola, but have found more success in laboratory experiments against coronaviruses. Dr. Paul Goepfert, a doctor and researcher in the infectious diseases division, will serve as the principal investigator.

“Remdesivir worked well in the test tube and animal models against a close relative of COVID-19,” Goepfert said. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to rapidly determine whether this drug will help treat hospitalized patients with COVID-19 here at UAB.”

The UAB site was activated yesterday by the National Institutes of Health. Patients hospitalized at University Hospital and UAB Highlands with positive tests for COVID-19 will be eligible for the study. The drug will be administered as an IV treatment.

Read more about the antiviral treatment remdesivir.

Goepfert said patients with liver and kidney problems would be excluded. In past trials, remdesivir raised the levels of liver enzymes in some people.

The UAB site is hoping to enroll eight people. Worldwide, the goal is to enroll 400 people at 75 different test sites.

Goepfert said UAB doctors and nurses are excited about being part of the study.

“As an infectious diseases doctor, I hate to call it an exciting time, but it’s really gratifying to have something to contribute to this problem we are facing,” Goepfert said.

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