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CT researchers trying to stop spread of COVID-19


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Science is trying to harness the twists and turns of COVID-19.

At Yale School of Medicine, a clinical trial is focused on an asthma drug okayed for use overseas. A potential treatment for patients who could develop the life threatening lung condition – Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Lead investigator, Dr. Geoffrey Chupp says, “We don’t want them to go on respirators but what we want to do is try to reduce the inflammatory response before they get on a respirator and then if they do get on a respirator will get them off quickly.”

He goes on to say, “There aren’t any approved drugs at this point and time for the severe inflammatory response and that is a critical part of the disease in patients who get hospitalized.”

Promising data against COVID in animal models. Still waiting to hear from the FDA to get things started.

The drug Remdesivir did get FDA emergency use authorization. Yale researchers among those, gathering scientific proof that could lead to its full approval.

“The NIH study used a blanket 10 day course of Remdesivir. Ours explores a 5 day versus 10 day course for treating people with COVID,” says principal investigator Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, who expects preliminary details in June.

“Why that’s important,” he says. “As you can imagine is that if you can achieve treating people successfully with a shorter course of therapy means reduced hospitalization days, it means less exposure to drugs and side affects.”

And lives saved.

Testing is getting a thorough look at UCONN Health, where a study aims at less invasive methods to detecting COVID.

Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus says. “It’s looking at easier sites to get to. For example just a Q tip in the front part of the nose, the back of the throat and something as easy as a saliva sample.”

The co-primary investigator says it could address the high rate of false negatives/positives among available tests.

“The hope is this sort of research will allows us to see which testing site is most accurate or perhaps there’s some combination of testing sites that will perhaps be more accurate.”

Early results could come in a few weeks.

The antibody test checks for COVID exposure. UCONN is studying health care workers’ antibodies.

“The intent is to really see how well we are protecting our health care workers in a hospital environment, ” says Dr. Bruce Liang. “And also to get some idea down the line whether these antibodies prevent them from being infected again.”

The Dean of UCONN School of Medicine is also co-primary investigator.

He says, “I think we are going to find some antibodies that are the so-called good antibodies, the protective antibodies. And to what extent they are present? How long they will last? Those are unknown questions.”

Those participating are being monitored closely. Answers could come in three months.

The latest on the FDA convalescent plasma clinical trial underway at three Trinity Health of New England Connecticut hospitals. More than 100 donors screened — 25 cleared for donation to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. No early results released yet.

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