Indian-American Aruna Subramanian leading trial of Remdesivir in COVID-19

Dr Aruna Subramanian Covid investigation

The first breakthrough for a potential medicine against the Coronavirus is coming from the use of a drug called Remdesiver for COVID-19. The California-based pharma company, Gilead Sciences has said that the preliminary results showed that 50 per cent of the COVID-19 patients treated with a 5-day dosage of Remdesivir improved. Behind this ‘significant’ development, is an Indian-American doctor, Dr Aruna Subramanian who is the Clinical Professor, Medicine – Infectious Diseases at Stanford Healthcare.

Remdesivir has reportedly cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11 in clinical trial at hospitals around the world. Dr Subramanian was a lead investigator in this study. Based out of Palo Alto in California, she is an infectious disease specialist, she has been in practice for more than 20 years.

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“These data are encouraging as they indicate that patients who received a shorter, 5-day course of Remdesivir experienced similar clinical improvement as patients who received a 10-day treatment course,” said Aruna Subramanian in an interview.

The study sought to determine whether a shorter, five-day course of Remdesivir would achieve similar efficacy results as the 10-day treatment regimen used in multiple ongoing studies of Remdesivir, the pharma company said. “While additional data are still needed, these results help to bring a clearer understanding of how treatment with Remdesivir may be optimised, if proven safe and effective,” Subramanian noted.

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Dr Subramanian’s main focus is Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases and this includes the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infections in patients who are immunosuppressed because of: Solid Organ Transplantation, Bone Marrow (Hematopoeitic Cell) Transplants, Hematologic Malignancies, Chemotherapy for Solid Tumors HIV who receive Chemotherapy, Immunomodulators for Auto-Immune Diseases among others.

In the interview, Subramanian said that during normal times, a phase three clinical trial typically takes months of planning, after years of research before it is underway. A detailed report by PTI in India talks of her interview and some excerpts. “These aren’t normal times. With a fast-moving pandemic bearing down and no approved treatments available, researchers are, like everyone else, desperate for answers, and they have ramped up their efforts to find solutions.”

The news of Remdesivir progress for COVID-19 led the White House to say this study led by Subramanian was ‘good news.’ Remdesivir jumped to the top of the list of potential treatments in part because it was farthest along in the approval process,” Subramanian said.

A coronavirus infection occurs when the germ enters the body’s airways through the nose, mouth or eyes, then lodges in the cells in the lining of the lung’s airways, where it quickly starts to make millions of copies of itself, wreaking havoc on the lungs, Subramanian told the publication.

The virus makes copies of itself by inserting its own genes into the human cell’s genetic machinery, basically hijacking the replication process of the human cell. Remdesivir, like other anti-virals, is designed to target the system the virus uses to replicate, acting as a cap that prevents the virus from making new copies of itself or infecting other cells, she said.