Researchers at McGill University are looking for eligible Quebecers willing to take part in a clinical trial that will be used to test how well hydroxychloroquine can fight the coronavirus, according to CTV News.
The drug has previously been used to treat malaria and rheumatoid arthritis among other issues.
The drugs ability to treat coronavirus has become a controversial topic though some public figures—like President Donald Trump—have recommended it.
“(It) found almost a second life as an anti-inflammatory agent used in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus,” said Dr. Todd Lee from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Lee is one of the leading researchers in the trial.
“The thought here in why (hydroxychloroquine) garnered a lot of attention for COVID-19,” Lee said, “Is earlier evidence dating back to the SARS outbreak that suggested that chloroquine—of which hydroxychloroquine is a closely-related cousin—may be efficacious at killing the virus or preventing the inflammation associated with infection.”
The trial is aimed at finding out whether the drug has the ability to prevent people from becoming infected with the virus after exposure to it. Researchers also intend to see if it can limit effects on people who already have coronavirus.
“This drug was chosen because there’s experimental evidence dating back to SARS, there’s plausibility in the lab, the drug is, for the most part, available and can be manufactured in many countries, and has a reasonable side-effect profile,” Lee said.
“So we thought it was an interesting subject for early rapid clinical trials, to know where it’s efficacious.”
Researchers also hope the trial can prove that hydroxychloroquine can limit the disease to the point where people do not have to be hospitalized. This would be a big help to the stressed health-care system.
“Our first look at the data pooled with the U.S. data for prevention is happening this week, and there are some pre-specified rules for what would constitute a major success that would require the study to stop,” Lee said. “We’ll get our first look at that this week.”
Participants have to be showing symptoms of the virus or have been exposed to it within the past three or four days. They will fill online surveys after receiving either a placebo or the drug over the course of five days.
People can sign up for the trial here.