EL CENTRO — El Centro Regional Medical Center announced a collaboration with University of California San Diego School of Medicine on a trial for COVID-19 treatment using ACE inhibitors. The trial will study whether ACE inhibitors, used for treating high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetic kidney disease, might also reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, lowering instances of ICU admission and the necessity of using mechanical ventilators.

According to the release, the full trial will be coordinated by UC San Diego and is expected to be done at sites throughout the Country, including California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Texas, and Illinois. Approximately 560 participants will be recruited to participate in the randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial, a minimum of 30 ECRMC patients will participate in the study.

A double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical study is one in which neither the participant nor the researcher knows who is getting the drug treatment and who is getting the placebo in a controlled group. Candidates are those who are either presenting with COVID-19 symptoms in the Emergency Department or are currently hospitalized with the disease. The study is expected to last a year.

Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine and director of NAFLD Research Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine, will be the study’s principal investigator.

“There are no approved or proven treatments yet for COVID-19, which has infected millions worldwide and killed nearly 438,000 with the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight,” said Dr. Loomba. “We’re investigating whether drugs called ACE inhibitors might be part of the remedy.”

“Our hypothesis is that ACE inhibitor drugs help keep the RAAS (renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system) system in balance and functioning optimally,” said Loomba. “SARS infections create an imbalance, triggering feedback loops that promote inflammation and injury — a vicious cycle of pathological consequences that wrack the lungs, heart, and other organs, which can kill.”

Prospective patient participants are over the age of 18 and presenting in the emergency department or currently hospitalized. Virtual consent via videoconference or telephone will be required.

“Studies like these are going to help us save lives,” said Andrew T. LaFree, MD, ECRMC principal investigator for this trial. “Being a part of clinical trials like these is important to understanding COVID-19 and its treatments. We are pleased to be able to provide local data to help continue to research treatment of this disease.”

According to the release, the medical trials will be conducted by professionals in a controlled environment. The medications will be administered to participants by physicians who will monitor and evaluate the patients to ensure their safety

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