COVID-19 treatment trials happening in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Remdesivir is gaining a lot of attention as a promising treatment for the coronavirus. It does not get rid of the virus, but it can stop it from replicating.

Remdesivir, which was looked at to treat Ebola, could be a breakthrough drug in slowing the severity of COVID-19, and Houston Methodist doctors have been at the forefront.

"It certainly doesn't get rid of the coronavirus, but it stops it from getting worse," said Dr. Katherine Perez, PharmD, at Houston Methodist.

READ MORE: US study finds Gilead drug remdesivir works against coronavirus

It was first administered to patients as part of a trial in mid-March. They say treating patients early is beneficial.

"We feel that at an early phase of illness, it will have benefits to our patients by stopping the replication of the virus, preventing the ultimate cascade that leads to lung failure," said Dr. Kevin Grimes, an infectious disease specialist at Houston Methodist.

So far, up to 50 patients have received it. Grimes said a good candidate is someone who is hospitalized and may need oxygen or a ventilator, but there is also another consideration.

"Those that have good enough kidney and liver function, just to make sure they can safely metabolize the drug and not cause any harm," said Grimes.

After that, it's an infusion that's given daily for up to 10 days. The hope is to ultimately lower the number of days a patient has to stay in the hospital.

"Potentially, [our hope is to] get patients out of the hospital sooner and home where they'll really get better," said Perez.

So far, of the roughly 50 patient in the trial, more than 30 have gone home.

"We are optimistic at this time that this is potentially a good candidate for treating coronavirus. We've had good outcomes so far," said Grimes.

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