A new international clinical trial has received major funding to compare the impact of different drugs on COVID-19 patients in hospital.The Australasian COVID-19 trial (ASCOT), spanning over 85 hospitals between Australian and New Zealand, will assess the safety and effectiveness of two existing drugs to treat COVID-19 patients.
“This trial will help us evaluate whether each drug can prevent or delay the progression of COVID-19 in hospitalised patients,” said Murdoch University Adjunct Professor Owen Robinson, who will lead the study in Western Australia.
The goal is to ensure patient health doesn’t decline to the point of needing intensive care,” said Dr Robinson.Dr Robinson is one of the 11 researchers awarded funding from the $1.9 million COVID-19 Research Grants Program recently announced by the WA government.
In collaboration with his colleagues in the eastern states, Dr Robinson has been instrumental in finalising the testing protocol to help establish the study in Western Australia.
He will act as the Principal Investigator in the study for Royal Perth Hospital. Dr Robinson said one the many benefits of the large trans-Tasman collaboration is the team being able to gather results on antiviral treatment much faster.
“The plan is to move from a traditional randomised trial to an adaptive platform trial and therefore, as other potential treatments become available, we’ll be able to test these widely through the coordinated framework of ASCOT.”
The aim of ASCOT is to prevent the rapid deterioration of COVID-19 patient health to the point of needing a ventilator.
“During preliminary lab testing, we identified that an HIV medication – known as lopinavir/ritonavir – and malaria drug hydroxychloroquine showed promise in vitro against the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19,” said Dr Robinson.
The ASCOT program progresses these drugs to testing on people hospitalised with the virus.
“The trial will randomise patient treatment, meaning some participants will receive the lopinavir/ritonavir or hydroxychloroquine or the combination of both, while others may not receive either.”
Dr Robinson added being fast, responsive and adaptive is key to fighting COVID-19. Patients who have been hospitalised with COVID-19 who do not yet require intensive care support will be recruited to take part in the trial.
The trial will involve 2,500 patients and will continue through to 2021.
Learn more on Murdoch's COVID-19 research.