HIV Treatment to be Tested on COVID-19 Patients

Daytona Everett

It’s being called a medical break-through in the making. A local group of clinical researchers are studying a drug that was formerly used to treat HIV to see if it can help people diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We’re crossing our fingers, yes,” Dr. Carlos Martinez, chief medical officer at Palmtree Clinical Research, said.

It’s a race to find treatments for COVID-19 across the world and Dr. Martinez is hoping Leronlimab could be the answer.

 “Your body’s immune system kind of starts shooting off all these deadly cells that can eventually cause your body to have very severe inflammation and very severe reaction,” he said. 

Dr. Martinez said the drug is supposed to block that process. The goal is to help patients who test positive for the virus in the beginning stages when they have mild to moderate symptoms to keep them from being hospitalized.

Clinical trials are set to begin next week. The office will conduct a consent process over the phone before the patient comes in to make sure they qualify for the treatment.

During the trials, the researchers are gowned up and the patient is led to a room where they give written consent, get a physical and have their blood drawn.

After that, the medication is prepared. Some patients will get the actual medication and others will get a placebo.

The first syringe is used to pull out the medication and the second syringe is used for the injection that will be given to the patient in the abdomen; one shot on the left side and one shot on the right side.

The blood samples are then spun and saved for testing.

“Every single week we see them to make sure their symptoms don’t get worse or that everything is actually under control,” Dr. Martinez said.

Having done several other clinical trials, Dr. Martinez said he is ready to get to work.

“I’m very excited actually, to be honest with you, it’s a very interesting study,” he said. “I’m hoping that it is, like we mentioned earlier, one of those breakthrough drugs.”

Dr. Martinez said Leronlimab has minimal side effects. Ten other sites across the country are also conducting trials and are all in collaboration with the site in Palm Springs.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to participate in the trials, contact Palmtree Clinical Research at (760) 778-7799.

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