Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are testing a two-drug combo with hopes that it becomes the “golden ticket” against coronavirus, according to a recent report.
Last week, one first patient at UCSF was treated with the concoction of antiviral drug remdesivir and interferon beta, a medication used to treat multiple sclerosis, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is sponsoring the randomized, controlled clinical trial. The study will enroll more than 1,000 hospitalized adults with COVID-19 at as many as 100 sites in the U.S. and abroad, with UCSF being one of those sites.
According to NIH, all patients will get remdesivir and those in the combination therapy group will be injected with interferon beta every other day for four total doses. Patients only receiving remdesivir will get a matching placebo injection.
“We are looking for the golden ticket,” Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF, who is on the study team, told the outlet. “The gold medalist will be a combination of drugs that will get you to the sweet spot.”
Researchers hope the drug combination will attack the virus and lower inflammation, the outlet wrote. NIH said investigators will evaluate recovery time, with secondary goals to study patient outcomes and mortality.
Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir has shown to shorten recovery times among COVID-19 patients, and a recent UK study found that hospitalized COVID-19 patients who received an inhaled form of interferon beta fared better with the virus. These patients had a 79% lower risk of developing more debilitating symptoms.
When researchers found that remdesivir improved recovery times in an earlier NIH trial, they said future strategies should evaluate antiviral agents in combination with other therapeutic approaches to further improve patient outcomes.
If the drugs are a successful duo, researchers hope to use the concoction as an outpatient treatment to prevent hospitalizations, according to the outlet. NIH said preliminary results are expected in the fall.
“It would mean I have something I can give patients that would decrease hospitalizations, decrease deaths and decrease the need for a breathing tube,” Chin-Hong told the outlet. “All those things would make me feel excited.”
Fox News’ Amy McGorry contributed to this report.