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Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has begun enrolling participants in a study of a treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia. Aurora BayCare is one of 40 sites in the country participating in the study.

The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial will evaluate the safety and clinical efficacy of the intravenous drug Auxora as a potential therapy for patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

“Auxora is what’s called a calcium release-activated calcium channel inhibitor,” said pulmonologist and critical care specialist Raul Mendoza-Ayala, MD, Advocate Aurora Research Institute’s site principal investigator for the study. “Calcium channel inhibitors are known to block the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from immune cells and have the potential to interrupt the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ that leads to acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome in patients with COVID-19.”

Researchers across the country expect to enroll up to 400 participants who are receiving supplemental oxygen.

All patients enrolled in the study will still receive care consistent with local standard of care, including possible treatment with dexamethasone, remdesivir and convalescent plasma. Immunosuppressive medications or immunotherapies are prohibited in patients randomized into the study.

“Although treatment success for patients with COVID-19 pneumonia has improved over the course of the pandemic, clinicians are still looking to clinical research trials such as this one to continue developing potentially life-saving interventions,” said Nina Garlie, PhD, interim vice president for the Research Institute.