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University Hospitals to launch clinical trial of drug that may prevent airborne transmission of coronavirus

'The theory is that once applied to the back of the throat, ARMS-I may work to prevent new airborne viral particles from attaching to the back of the oral cavity.'

CLEVELAND — University Hospitals in Cleveland will lead a clinical trial that involves giving an investigational drug to its caregivers who are working the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

The drug, known as ARMS-I, will be tested to see if it can prevent airborne transmission of the coronavirus. It’s also being used to determine if it reduces the symptoms for healthcare providers who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“In laboratory studies, ARMS-I has been shown to kill enveloped viruses, including influenza," UH officials said in a press release. “COVID-19 is also an enveloped virus. The preclinical data are encouraging, but studies in humans are necessary to determine whether the product is effective against specific pathogens. The UH study is intended to address that need with regard to COVID-19. Additionally, an important study recently published in the Journal of Virology indicates that one of the active ingredients in ARMS-I has potent antiviral activity against coronavirus MERS-CoV.”

The trial is expected to begin within two weeks.

“We are optimistic about the potential benefits ARMS-I may provide in the fight against COVID-19 and in protecting our health care workers,” said Afif Ghannoum, Chief Executive Officer of ARMS Pharmaceutical. “The theory is that once applied to the back of the throat, ARMS-I may work to prevent new airborne viral particles from attaching to the back of the oral cavity called the oropharynx and therefore stop transmission. If the trial is successful, as we hope, we will work closely with the FDA and other relevant authorities with the goal of swiftly securing the necessary approvals to manufacture the product in quantities necessary to broadly help protect health care workers on the frontline.”

A previous study suggested this drug might be effective as a throat spray in reducing infection, according to Dr. Robert Salata, MD, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at UH Cleveland Medical Center.

“The goal of this trial is to rapidly determine whether ARMS-I is effective in providing protection against COVID-19 for frontline health workers,” Dr. Salata said. “We will be measuring whether there is a decrease in the rate of COVID-19 infection, and also whether there is a decrease in the frequency, duration and severity of acute upper respiratory infection in caregivers who may contract the virus.”

UH trial participants will include clinical staff who are directly caring for patients.

“This trial is a randomized placebo-controlled crossover study and during the course of the trial, everyone will get the investigational drug even if they started with the placebo,” UH officials explained.

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