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A team of researchers in New York is pairing with another group in Montreal to explore whether a common anti-inflammatory medication used to treat gout and other conditions may help coronavirus patients. The teams, from NYU Langone Health and Montreal Heart Institute Research Center, are seeking to enroll 6,000 participants for a monthlong trial involving Colchicine.
Colchicine, taken orally, does not cure gout but helps prevent the buildup of uric acid and inflammation in the joints, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s not considered a pain reliever, but it has also been used to treat Mediterranean fever in adults and children.
Researchers hope that short-term use of the drug will reduce the rate of hospitalizations, lung complications, and death related to COVID-19.
“At present, there is no proven treatment for those diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Dr. Binita Shah, an interventional cardiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, and the study’s principal investigator at NYU Langone, in a press release. “Our experience with Colchicine suggests that early use of this drug may help dampen inflammation that the body produces in response to the virus and enable patients to recover without being hospitalized.”
For the trial, dubbed COLCORONA, participants must have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 48 hours but not hospitalized for it, be 40 years or older, have at least one high-risk criteria, be willing to take the drug or a placebo for at least 30 days and be willing to participate in two follow-up calls by phone or video conference.
“If successful, this medication could be added to treatment protocols quickly across the country and internationally,” Dr. Michael Pillinger, professor of medicine and co-principal investigator on the study at NYU Langone, said in a news release. “We are at a critical point in this pandemic where implanting our existing knowledge to find solutions is vital.”
The news comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is working “as quickly as possible” to make remdesivir, which has seen early success in studies, available for COVID-19 patients.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during the White House press conference on Wednesday.