UVA discovery spurs clinical trial of antidepressant to fight COVID-19

An antidepressant medication is being tested as a potential treatment for COVID-19 after...
An antidepressant medication is being tested as a potential treatment for COVID-19 after University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers determined it may prevent dangerous overreactions by the immune system.(WVIR)
Published: May. 12, 2020 at 7:43 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A discovery at the University of Virginia is leading researchers to test a popular antidepressant as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

The antidepressant is called Fluvoxamine, and researchers say it could prevent dangerous overreactions by the body’s immune system.

Last year, UVA researchers found out the drug reduces the production of immune cells, called cytokines. It initially proved effective in mice as a preventative treatment for sepsis. Now, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are launching a clinical trial to see if Fluvoxamine can help patients with severe COVID-19 infections.

“I was always excited to apply our findings for sepsis," Associate Professor of Neuroscience at UVA Alban Gaultier said. "But for COVID-19, it’s even more exciting because we have no option for them. It’s really a huge impact for everybody in society, so I’m really looking forward to the results of the clinical trial. It makes sense to try it with COVID patients.”

The clinical trial will test Fluvoxamine in 152 patients with COVID-19 in Illinois and Missouri. It should be complete by the end of June. If the drug proves useful, it’s already FDA approved and available in generic form.

For additional information on the trial, click here.

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