DRAPER — A New York-based drug company is starting a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical study on a new drug to determine whether or not it could treat COVID-19.
“If this works, this has the potential to be absolutely groundbreaking,” said Dr. Duane Harris, an allergy and asthma specialist and clinical investigator in Draper.
Harris has tested many drugs over the years, but nothing like this drug, which has such worldwide potential.
“The thought is that it works by changing cell signaling in the affected cells, maybe interrupting the viral replication in the cell,” he said.
Thomas Hatch, director of business development for Beech Tree Labs, the company behind the drug, said the drug was made 20 years ago as a potential treatment for herpes, but it never went to market.
“This one happened to be sitting on the back burner and we had tested it extensively for the herpes virus and we thought, ‘let’s try it for COVID-19,’” Hatch told KSL.
The company started a media campaign in Utah to find 40 patients to participate in phase two of the FDA-approved study.
Researchers are looking for people over 60 who tested positive for COVID-19 and have current health issues.
This one happened to be sitting on the back burner and we had tested it extensively for the herpes virus and we thought, 'let’s try it for COVID-19.'
–Thomas Hatch, director of business development for Beech Tree Labs
“We will collect information from these patients all from the comfort of their own home. We don’t have any patients coming into a hospital or doctor’s office,” said Hatch. “We are pretty confident our drug can do some good things, but we have to prove it.”
The drug is not meant to cure those who are already hospitalized or in critical condition. It’s meant to catch the disease early so a person does not end up in the hospital.
“We want people that we can prevent from getting sick instead of trying to fix the people that are already seriously ill,” said Harris.
The drugmakers said they were very optimistic. If they can get 40 people, then the trial itself will take only about 14 days. Then they can move to phase three, where they bring in hundreds of patients.
If that proves successful, they were hoping the drug could be on the market before the end of the year.
There is more information on the study and patients who qualify at www.sickwithcoronavirus.com or call 833-Flu-Drug.