UF emergency medicine researchers taking part in five COVID-19 studies

By Daniel Leveton

Emergency medicine physicians at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville are working to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic by undertaking five new research projects, ranging from clinical trials to patient registries, to learn more about testing, effective treatment options and disease recovery.

Researchers are actively enrolling eligible patients at UF Health Jacksonville in COVID-19-related research studies. The efforts contribute to important work being conducted around the world to help researchers and clinicians better understand and more effectively target treatment options for COVID-19 patients.

Electronic microscope image of the novel coronavirus isolated from a patient. The virus is shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the laboratory. (Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories)

“UF Health emergency medicine is leading the way around COVID-19 research on our campus. They are providing key insights for the medical community at a time when we need answers,” said Alexander Parker, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “As evidenced by the five studies underway in our emergency department, we are eager to contribute scientifically sound evidence regarding what are the best detection and treatment options for COVID-19 going forward.”

Investigators on the UF Health Jacksonville campus include emergency medicine physicians Lauren Black, M.D., M.P.H.; David Caro, M.D.; Elizabeth DeVos, M.D., M.P.H.; Faheem Guirgis, M.D.; Phyllis Hendry, M.D.; Ashley Norse, M.D.; and department of medicine physician Joseph Shiber, M.D., along with infectious disease specialist Carmen Isache, M.D.

Two of the studies are clinical trials looking at potential medications effective in treating patients with COVID-19. The losartan randomized controlled trial is enrolling patients to receive either losartan, an antihypertensive medication, or a placebo. The trial specifically seeks to identify improvements in patients with COVID-19 who are experiencing respiratory failure.

The Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial 3, or ACTT-3, is a multicenter trial that will be conducted in approximately 100 sites nationwide. ACTT-3 is a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial that aims to evaluate the combination of interferon beta-1a, an anti-inflammatory medication commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis, and remdesivir, an antiviral medication, compared with remdesivir alone.

A third study, sponsored by Abbott Laboratories, is testing a potential COVID-19 rapid test called BinaxNOW. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for the rapid tests. The UF Health Jacksonville campus is the first enrolling site in Florida testing BinaxNOW.

In data submitted to the FDA from a clinical study conducted by Abbott with several leading U.S. research universities, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card demonstrated sensitivity of 97.1% (positive percent agreement) and specificity of 98.5% (negative percent agreement) in patients suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider within the first seven days of symptom onset.

Immunophenotyping Assessment in a COVID‐19 Cohort, or IMPACC, is an observational study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and includes three Florida sites — Gainesville, Jacksonville and Tampa. IMPACC includes collection of clinical data during a patient’s hospitalization and up to one year after onset. Biological samples, such as blood, nasal swabs and lung washings, collected from patients will provide a comprehensive picture of immune changes that occur throughout the course of infection.

An additional study involves enrollment in the Indiana University COVID-19 Registry to allow UF Health Jacksonville to share information on COVID-19 patients, containment and care escalation efforts. The registry was introduced as a multicenter patient registry to assist hospitals across the nation in sharing key clinical data to inform the care of future patients.

“Our team of emergency medicine physicians engaged in COVID-19 studies exemplifies the spirit of our division and our commitment to contributing to the greater good of the medical community,” said Hendry, associate chair of emergency medicine research at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “Our entire research team and campus have worked tirelessly to bring COVID-19-related studies on board in a rapid manner. We could not do this without our research coordinators and the support of emergency medicine nursing leadership.” 

This story was originally posted on UF Health.

Check out more stories about UF research on COVID-19.