University of Utah Hospital begins COVID-19 treatment study


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – COVID-19 patients at the University of Utah Hospital now have the opportunity to participate in a study testing Leukine as a treatment for the virus.

Dr. Robert Pine is the Chief of Pulmonary Medicine at the U and principal investigator of the study.

He spoke with ABC4 News about Leukine. He explained, “We have a lot of reasons to think this will be a great treatment for COVID, but we have to prove it.”

COVID-19 initially attacks the lungs, but Leukine has the potential to stop it.

Dr. Pine explained, “Leukine is a version of a substance that is already present in the lung it is part of our natural defense in the lung. What we are trying to do with Leukine is to harness a naturally occurring substance that activates the lung’s own defense mechanism that protects the lungs and helps to ward off infection.”

Partner Therapeutics is hosting the trial with a grant from the Department of Defense. Leukine is already FDA approved. It is a mist treatment where the patient breathes it in two times a day for five days. Leukine targets the lungs and activates its own defense system.

Dr. Pine said, “We believe it will speed up their recovery, speed clearance of the virus and help the lung heal. The goal is patients can recover more quickly and not have long term consequences from COVID.”

While there is still much work to be done to prove that Leukine works for COVID-19 patients, it is very promising and is available.

Dr. Pine continued, “This Leukine is very special because there is an enormous storage of it. The government has been putting it away for other possible usages. So if it turns out this works – there isn’t a big manufacturing lag, it could get out very quickly.”

Right now the University of Utah is the first hospital to host this study, but more hospitals are expected to join soon.

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