Nurses with protective masks

Ascension St. John in Tulsa is the first hospital in Oklahoma to begin a clinical research trial for a COVID-19 treatment. The Ascension St. John Clinical Research Institute began actively enrolling participants on March 26. To participate, patients must be severely to critically ill, be hospitalized and test positive for COVID-19.

The drug under investigation is an intravenous medication, Sarilumab, an anti-inflammatory typically prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers hope it can also decrease inflammation in the lungs. The drug showed promise during a small-scale study in China earlier this year.

“Ascension St. John is doing all that we can to bring the most up-to-date treatments to our patients and the community,” said Stacie Merritt, Director of the Ascension St. John Clinical Research Institute. “We have a tremendous team that’s working well together across disciplines and across departments to provide the very best care we can.”

Meritt noted that while a typical rapid deployment for a clinical trial is 6-8 weeks, the local team turned this request around is just 48 hours.

“We aggressively sought out this trial and we will continue to seek out others that might be helpful to our patients and community,” she said. “We’re looking into everything from prevention all the way through to critically ill. Our hope is that we can bring multiple treatment options to our patients.”

The primary investigator on the trial is Anuj Malik, MD, the infectious disease expert at Ascension St. John.

The story was covered by Tulsa World.