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    COVID-19 Response at University of Miami Health System

    UM Tests Drug to Lessen Severity of COVID-19

    Dr. Dushyantha Jayaweera is a physician-researcher at University of Miami Health System.

    For more information on the Aviptadil clinical trial for COVID-19 patients, visit the UHealth health news blog .


    As the work continues to find a vaccine for COVID-19, researchers at the University of Miami Health System are hopeful an anti-inflammatory drug may help hospitalized patients better recover from the disease.

    “Our greatest hope is that this study shows the effectiveness of the study drug versus the placebo in preventing cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients,” says UHealth physician-researcher Dushyantha Jayaweera, who leads the study.

    Cytokine storm is a reaction in the body that affects the lungs and may cause death in patients with the novel coronavirus. Dr. Jayaweera says Aviptadil could help control this reaction in intubated patients as well as patients on high flow oxygen in respiratory distress.

    “COVID-19 causes changes in the cells that can result in a cytokine storm in the body and damage the lungs and rest of the body,” he says. “Aviptadil may be able to stop the catastrophic changes and death happening with COVID-19.”

    In this double blind, randomized trial, some patients receive the drug while others receive a placebo, to help ensure unbiased results. According to Dr. Jayaweera, Aviptadil has been widely studied and is considered safe for treating some chronic pulmonary diseases.

    “One of the advantages of using Aviptadil to prevent a cytokine storm is that it does not suppress the immune system,” says Dr. Jayaweera. “As far as we know it has little or no side effects,and therefore it is relatively safe.”

    UHealth has been engaged in research on former outbreaks that have affected South Florida, including HIV, Hepatitis C and Zika, Dr. Jayaweera says. “This comes naturally to UHealth because that's our mission. We bring research to our community, share it with the people, but do it in the most ethical and scientifically rigorous way.”

    “Our hope is to make our community healthy. That’s our mission and our goal.”


    Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.

    Above content provided by UHealth, the University of Miami Health System