Vanderbilt University Medical Center to help study 'repurposing' drugs for COVID-19

Posted at 8:43 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 21:43:39-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Vanderbilt University Medical Center joins a nationwide effort to study what drugs can be repurposed for treating COVID-19.

More than one year into the pandemic and while vaccines are available, researchers say there’s still no approved therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.

That’s where VUMC hopes they can help. They’ve joined the Duke Clinical Research Institute in a $155 million effort to study if these symptoms can be alleviated with existing drugs we’re already familiar with.

Dr. Christopher Lindsell is a professor of Biostatistics and director of the Research Methods Program in the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research or (VICTR). Lindsell will now lead VUMC’s efforts in coordinating the data for this study.

“It is an incredible team effort to do a trial like this,” Lindsell said.

Lindsell says the study is all about speed and efficiency. The very notion of repurposing drugs we already know saves months if not years on research and development. By connecting with clinics and medical centers around the country, they then share their findings with the very clinicians who can recommend treatments.

The idea is to reach more people in places where they may not have access to major medical institutions actively working on treatment options.

“The trial is designed so that people can access it in their language. They don’t need to go to a doctor’s office, they can interact with the system at their own pace and their own time,” Lindsell said.

The drugs in the study have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or (FDA). Once trials begin early this summer, patients will have the drugs delivered to their homes. To be eligible, a patient must be at least 30 years old, tested positive for COVID-19, and had two or more mild or moderate symptoms.

Lindsell says they will monitor the patient’s condition every day to see if there have been any changes to their symptoms. A process that lasts over 14 days. 90 days after treatment begins the researchers will also study any long-term effects the patient may have developed. In total, the study could last as many as 18 months depending on future advancements in COVID-19 treatment.

“Even if we can shave off two or three days of people being sick, that’s a good thing for these relatively straightforward drugs,” Lindsell said.

Lindsell anticipates anywhere from around 10,000-15,000 patients participating in the study.