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Testing treatments for COVID-19

Visual inspection process for investigational remdesivir

Samir Gupta, MD, is joining researchers all over the world to study the effects of remdesivir on patients with COVID-19. Gupta, who is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Indiana University School of Medicine, has been leading two separate studies regarding the use of remdesivir.

The first study involves giving remdesivir to hospitalized patients who did not need extra oxygen at two different durations, for five or ten days. The second study involves giving severely ill patients (who need extra oxygen or were on a ventilator) remdesivir for five or ten days. Both of these studies are randomized. The goal of both studies is to determine whether five or ten days would be sufficient to help the patient recover, as well as reducing side effects. Gupta says doing these kinds of studies gives researchers a better idea of whether the drug is truly helpful.

“We’re making positive strides,” said Gupta, who is also the Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Medicine at IU School of Medicine. “I really do believe that by the end of this calendar year, we’ll have a much firmer handle on how to properly treat patients with COVID-19 and maybe also be able to determine what types of treatment would be better suited, based on individual patient characteristics.”

These studies are both being led by Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical company that developed remdesivir. Researchers have been enrolling thousands of patients in these studies at more than 160 sites all over the world.

“If the trial was just done in Indianapolis, that would answer questions about people with COVID-19 in Indiana, but it may not pertain to patients in Europe, Asia or South America, because there are differences in environment, genetics, and local customs of how to treat infectious diseases,” said Gupta. “In a worldwide trial, if we still see a positive, beneficial signal or result with remdesivir, that really means something. That means that we can use this treatment anywhere in the world and should get similarly-good results.”

Another benefit to finding out whether five days of remdesivir treatment could be just as good as ten days would be doubling the available supply. Gupta says the next phase of these studies is to determine if combination therapies could be even more effective than just giving remdesivir alone.

“I’m just so proud of our team,” said Gupta. “It’s a testament to the single-minded mission that the whole school and the university has had over these last three months to help everybody deal with this pandemic.”

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Anna Carrera

Research Communications Manager

Anna Carrera is the research communications manager for Indiana University's Precision Health Initiative, IU School of Medicine and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. She joined the team in June 2019 after working as a TV news rep...