Yale University, Guilford Company Begin COVID-19 Treatment Trials

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The effects of the coronavirus can vary dramatically from person to person. Some may have mild symptoms, while others suffer extreme symptoms and even death.

AI therapeutics in Guilford is working on a drug that they say can slow those symptoms at the start.

“This is an oral pill that you take, we have five million that we’re making, and we want to stop people from getting very sick,” said AI Therapeutics founder Johnathan Rothberg.

AI Therapeutics is now partnered with Yale University’s Center for Clinical Investigation. Together they’ve started a phase two clinical trial for a drug called LAM-2 for use in newly infected COVID-19 patients.  

“If we can show that this drug is indeed effective in preventing the progression of disease, we can imagine using it in high-risk populations and underprivileged areas,” said Dr. Murat Gunel, Yale University professor of genetics and neuroscience.

Gunel is working on the clinical trial, and says early results show the drug slows the impact of the virus on the lungs. The trial will collect data in hopes of proving that and gaining approval from the FDA.

“We have to recruit the patients, and they have to have a great response, and we have to open centers across the country, but I’m looking optimistically to get data as soon as possible,” said Rothberg.

They’re looking for nearly 150 patients at 20 centers nationwide who are within the first four days of showing symptoms. After taking the medication, they’ll be tested three days later to see if the virus has gotten worse.

It’s one of few out-patient clinical trials at Yale University for COVID-19, and one of only eight trials for a treatment medication.

Rothberg says local patients can reach out to Yale to join. He says having the university as the leader in the trial helps speed the effort in treatment.

“Phase two is designed with enough care, that if we have strong data, that we’re saving people’s lives, that we’re reducing hospitalization we can go right for emergency use authorization, and approval,” said Rothberg.

Alvin Tran of the University of New Haven says as companies move closer to vaccine prevention and treatment therapies for COVID-19, people should not become complacent.

“Until we find a vaccine that’s deemed safe and effective in preventing COVID-19, we have to rely on wearing our masks we still have to practice social distancing,” said Tran.

And although the COVID-19 numbers in Connecticut remain relatively low, there’s concern looking ahead to the fall where people start to return inside.  

“They might be in the classroom, they might be at work, we’re not sure what the aftermath or the consequence of that might look like,” said Tran.

AI Therapeutics hopes to have FDA approval by the fall, and phase three vaccine trials are starting. Tran says now is the time to keep up precautions that have kept Connecticut’s numbers low.

“Especially as we’re entering the fall and winter seasons, that’s when COVID-19 can coincide with the flu virus, other cold viruses so it’s important that we remain vigilant.”

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