Pitt Researchers Speed Up Testing of COVID-19 Treatments

Any COVID-19 patient being treated at a UPMC hospital will be eligible to participate in the new clinical trials.
Drug Testing

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC have launched a new, global effort to figure out which drugs, or combination of treatments, best help patients recover from COVID-19.

The options include the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, steroids and medications that alter the responsiveness of the immune system.

“I don’t know what will work best,” Dr. Derek Angus, UPMC chair of critical care, said during a press conference. “I have personal hope that some of the antivirals will help a little bit, but I think we will also need to help the immune system have a more favorable response. The correct answer is probably going to be a combination of therapies that we haven’t even tried.”

The new testing method depends on machine learning (artificial intelligence) to track several treatment options simultaneously, giving doctors a quicker determination as to which therapies are most effective.

“This allows us to always rapidly identify which treatment works best, while keeping the number of patients needed to achieve statistical significance low,” sats Angus. “It also means we get the best treatment to the most patients right out of the gate.”

Any UPMC patient undergoing treatment for COVID-19 is eligible for the trials, called UPMC-REMAP-COVID19, and the results will be integrated into the health system patient database. The data will also be connected to the global REMAP-CAP, which will include information collected from COVID-19 patients throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

“In a pandemic, doctors will not have the time to debate the pros and cons of every possible clinical trial,” Angus says. “By building this one-stop solution at the point-of-care, we are rolling out an approach that can assure that every patient admitted with COVID-19, if they choose to, can be enrolled in the program.”

Categories: The 412