Carlos III Institute of Health funds six new trials to combat COVID-19

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The Carlos III Institute of Health, in Madrid, has just announced that it will finance six new projects that will evaluate antiviral treatments, diagnostic tests with nanotechnology, repositioning of drugs used in other indications and pharmacological prevention in people without infection.

These studies, in which centres from various autonomous communities have participated, are added to two others that have also been financed, with the idea of being applied in the short term to patients.

The first trials that were financed are under development and are being analyzed. One combined the use of antiviral agents with hyper immunity blockers in the early stages of the disease and the other manipulates the use of plasma with antibodies from patients that have already been cured.

What are the new trials?

The first of six new trials will test and compare three types of antiviral treatments: one with hydroxychloroquine, one with lopinavir/ritonavir, and one that combines hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. The study is led by the Institute of Health Research at the Hospital La Paz in Madrid (IdiPaz) and will involve more than 30 hospitals in various autonomous communities.

The second trial also focuses on treatment with antiviral agents and is part of the international study Solidarity of the World Health Organization (WHO). It will study the effectiveness of the drugs remdesevir, ritonavir/lopinavir, hydroxychloroquine and beta interferon. This study will be carried out by the Health Research Institute of the Hospital Clínico in Madrid. Its aim is to find the best treatment for the disease as soon as possible and to unify the different therapeutic protocols being carried out in hospitals.

Led by the University Hospital of Elche and with the participation of hospitals in the provinces of Alicante, Murcia and Madrid, the third trial focuses on the prevention of COVID-19 by means of a drug (a pill), called mefloquine, taken once a week. 

The fourth trial will analyse a drug used in other pathologies, called defibrotide, which could be used to reduce respiratory distress, the main pulmonary complication of COVID-19 that is responsible for many patients ending up in intensive care. This project is led by the Instituto Murciano de Investigaciones Biomédicas (IMIB) and expects the participation of centres in Catalonia, Castilla León, Madrid and, at an international level, hospitals in the United States, Israel and Italy that have already shown interest in participating.

The Health Research Institute of the Hospital Clínico de Valencia (INCLIVA) will lead the fifth project which focuses on using an alternative to propofol, this is when anaesthesia is required for intubation. The proposed alternative is sevoflurane which, with the same effectiveness as propofol, could reduce the time required for intubation thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects. Centres in Madrid, the Basque Country and Valencia are also participating in this trial.

Finally, the sixth trial aims to confirm the effectiveness of a novel rapid diagnostic test that would reduce the waiting time required for PCR tests and, thanks to nanotechnology that allows dyeing in the patient's samples, would make it easier and faster to read the test results. The project is led by physicists from the Fundación Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados en Nanociencia (IMDEA-Nanoscience).

In the eight studies financed so far, ISCIII has invested 2.6 million of the 24 million that the COVID-19 Fund has for research. In all this time the Institute has received more than a thousand proposals from all the autonomous communities.

New research projects focused on knowing more about the biology of the virus and the generation of patient records will be approved soon.

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