Podcast: Clinical trials launch to evaluate antimalarial, antidepressant drugs to treat COVID-19

A new episode of our podcast “Show Me the Science” has been posted. At present, we are highlighting research and patient care on the Washington University Medical Campus as our scientists and clinicians confront COVID-19.

Although anecdotal reports have suggested certain therapies help some patients, there still are no proven treatments for the disorder. In this episode, we discuss repurposing existing drugs to treat COVID-19. One study involves treating hospitalized patients. Another involves providing infected patients with a drug to take at home as a way to prevent them from worsening and having to go to the hospital.

The trial in hospitalized patients is evaluating the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Infectious diseases specialists Rachel M. Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine, and Jane O’Halloran, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine, give COVID-19 patients one of the drugs — either in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin or by itself — to see whether such treatments might speed recovery and prevent some of the worst problems associated with the viral infection.

In another study, researchers are repurposing a psychiatric medication to try to prevent the excessive inflammatory response to the virus that lands many in the hospital. Eric J. Lenze, MD, the Wallace and Lucille Renard Professor of Psychiatry, and infectious diseases specialist Caline Mattar, MD, an assistant professor of medicine, are testing the drug fluvoxamine. Normally used to treat psychiatric problems, the drug also inhibits a receptor linked to inflammation. The researchers are delivering the drug to COVID-19 patients at their homes. They then check in with the patients via computer or smartphone to monitor vital signs for several days while the patients take fluvoxamine.

The podcast “Show Me the Science” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Transcript coming soon.

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