UPMC launches unique COVID-19 treatment clinical trial

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(WTAJ) — Medical experts around the world are looking for answers as they work to development treatments for the Coronavirus.

On Thursday morning, doctors at UPMC announced the start of their COVID-19 clinical treatment trial.

UPMC is just one healthcare system participating in this international clinical trial.

Patients who are admitted to a UPMC facility with moderate or severe COVID-19 symptoms can enroll in the trial.

Doctors then assign different “recipes” of treatments , meaning a randomized combination of drugs, including the anti-malarial drug hydroxychrloroquine, steroids, and other immune-system targeted medication.

“I think we will also need to help the immune system have a more favorable response, and the correct answer is probably going to be a combination of therapies that we haven’t even tried yet,” Dr. Derek Angus, Chair of the Department of Clinical Care Medicine for UPMC, said.

As more data comes in, the trial will adjust, so future patients could get the stronger recipe.

“Those treatments that are doing the best, even while the trial is still running, the trial then changes the odds towards getting those treatments more frequently,” Dr. Angus said.

As of now, only patients sick enough to be admitted to the hospital can enroll in the trial. However, Dr. Angus said there’s potential to help mild cases in the future.

“We want to do the very best possible treatment for the patient in front of us, but we want to do even better treatment for the patient that comes tomorrow. We have no therapy for this disease,” he said.

Doctors also said 309 Coronavirus tests have been done at their collection site in Altoona. Four-percent of those have returned positive.

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