Skymount Medical and Riverside University Health System (RUHS) Medical Center are partnering to conduct the first US clinical trial on the efficacy of COVID-19 oral therapeutics discovered by LSU researchers using artificial intelligence.

The testing will be conducted through RUHS Medical Center’s Comparative Effectiveness and Clinical Outcomes Research Center (CECORC) in Moreno Valley. It will evaluate the combined effects of an already FDA-approved cancer medication and an already FDA-approved anti-parasitic agent (both approved for humans) on patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms that do not require hospitalization. Similar studies are already underway in Europe.

Although the outcomes for patients have yet to be revealed, predictive studies leveraged by LSU’s AI technology and early cell and animal studies conducted by Illinois Institute of Technology have already shown the new drug combination up to 97% effective in reducing the amount of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr Kishor Wasan, Skymount Medical’s Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Distinguished University Scholar Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and co-inventor of the therapeutic combination, said:

“We’re excited to partner with RUHS and Dr Bruce Weng’s team to facilitate a human clinical investigation to try to demonstrate the safety of the drug combination and efficacy in adult patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and exhibit mild-to-moderate symptoms.”

The goal of the study is to determine the impact this combination therapy will have on decreasing the length and severity of symptoms without negative side effects. The study will also evaluate if the combination drug can help decrease the need for hospitalizations.

Dr Weng, an infectious disease physician at RUHS Medical Center, said:

“Unfortunately, California has its fair share of COVID-19 cases. The one silver lining in this is that the sample size at our hospital is substantial enough to produce valuable data when evaluating the safety and efficacy of this drug combination. This is a pilot study and 100% voluntary. The safety of our patients is paramount, and we will stay in constant contact with those choosing to participate to ensure their health and well-being.”

The researchers are hopeful that the new therapeutic also will prevent lingering symptoms, which some people experience following COVID-19.

“The drug combination may reduce long-haul syndrome, the long-term consequences some patients report even after recovering from COVID-19, such as mental health issues and damage to organs,” Dr Wasan said.

DeepDrug™, the AI platform that helped discover the oral therapeutic, was created by an interdisciplinary team of LSU researchers led by Dr Supratik Mukhopadhyay, associate professor in the LSU Department of Computer Science. DeepDrug™ uses a next-generation AI capability that reduces the time and cost of drug discovery by up to 90%.