MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Cleveland Clinic Florida is about to begin what they hope will be promising research in the race to find more treatments to make COVID-19 a threat of the past.
Dr. Carla McWilliams is an Infectious Disease Specialist with Cleveland Clinic Florida.
She is part of a team that is leading clinical trials for COVID-19 patients that could begin in a couple of weeks.
Researchers will be testing whether Vitamin C and Zinc help reduce the likelihood of a newly diagnosed COVID-19 patient being hospitalized. Researchers also want to see if it can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
“The goal is to start these medications within two days of your diagnosis,” McWilliams said.
McWilliams said they will have a goal of enrolling 520 Cleveland Clinic patients in the trial within two days of their positive diagnosis. McWilliams said it is possible some of those trial participants could be patients on the Treasure Coast.
“Vitamin C and Zinc have been around for a long time in the outpatient setting. There’s a lot of products out there. They’re all used for colds and flu,” McWilliams said.
Cleveland Clinic Florida is also planning clinical trials for the use of an antibody called Canakinumab. Researchers want to use it in patients who have had a heart attack while also diagnosed with COVID-19.
“There’s been descriptions of heart attacks. There’s been an increased risk of stroke. There have been so-called corona-toes. There's all this vascular inflammatory response,” McWilliams described. She hopes the antibody treatment will prevent heart damage in COVID-19 patients. The study also seeks to determine whether the drug prevents the onset of respiratory failure, the need for ventilation, and cardiac shock.
For nearly a month, Cleveland Clinic Florida has also been conducting clinical trials for convalescent plasma therapy, which collects antibody-rich plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 to use for patients currently struggling with the virus.
The soon-to-open Cleveland Clinic Florida Research and Innovations Center (FRIC) in Port St. Lucie, Florida, will be an essential part of research and treatment for COVID-19.
McWilliams said research is expected to begin in the facility this summer.