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ECRMC to Participate in Clinical Trial for COVID-19 Treatment with UC San Diego

  • Category: News, COVID-19
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Israel Cruz

EL CENTRO, CA – June 18, 2020 - ECRMC has announced a collaboration with University of California San Diego School of Medicine on a trial for COVID-19 treatment using ACE inhibitors.

The trial will study whether ACE inhibitors, used for treating high blood pressure, heart failure and diabetic kidney disease, might also reduce the severity of COVID 19 infections, lowering instances of ICU admission and the necessity of using mechanical ventilators.

The full trial will be coordinated by UC San Diego and is expected be done at sites throughout the country, including California, New York, Massachusetts Washington, Texas and Illinois. Approximately 560 participants will be recruited to participate in the randomized, double blind and placebo controlled clinical trial, a minimum of 30 ECRMC patients will participate in this important study.

A double-blind and placebo controlled clinical study is one in which neither the participant nor the researcher knows who is getting the drug treatment and who is getting the placebo in a controlled group.

Candidates are those who are either presenting with COVID 19 symptoms in the Emergency Department or are currently hospitalized with the disease. The study is expected to last a year. Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine and director of NAFLD Research Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine will be the study’ s principal investigator.

“There are no approved or proven treatments yet for COVID 19, which has infected millions worldwide and killed nearly 438,000 with the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight,” said Dr. Loomba. We’re investigating whether drugs called ACE inhibitors might be part of the remedy.”

“Our hypothesis is that ACE inhibitor drugs help keep the RAAS (renin angiotensin aldosterone system) system in balance and functioning optimally,” said Loomba. “SARS infections create an imbalance, triggering feedback loops that promote inflammation and injury a vicious cycle of pathological consequences that wrack the lungs, heart and other organs, which can kill.”

Prospective patient participants are over the age of 18 and presenting in the emergency department or at our Outpatient Clinics. Virtual consent via videoconference or telephone will be required.

“Studies like these are going to help us save lives,” said Andrew T. LaFree, MD, ECRMC principal investigator for this trial. “Being a part of clinical trials like these is important to understanding COVID-19 and its treatments. We are pleased to be able to provide local data to help continue to research treatment of this disease.”

It is important to note that these medical trials will be conducted by professionals in a controlled environment. The medications will be administered to participants by physicians who will monitor and evaluate the patients to ensure their safety.

About El Centro Regional Medical Center

El Centro Regional Medical Center is an acute-care medical center, serving the health care needs of the Imperial Valley since 1956. In addition to a 161-bed hospital facility, ECRMC also owns and operates a state-of-the-art Medical Office Building housing the Oncology & Hematology Center, Wound Healing Center, Outpatient Imaging services, as well as numerous specialty clinics. Off-campus facilities include two outpatient clinics in El Centro and Calexico and a Community Education Center located at the Imperial Valley Mall. ECRMC provides comprehensive healthcare services for residents seeking enhanced well-being and improved quality of life.

About UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health, the region’s only academic health system, is dedicated to delivering outstanding patient care through commitment to community, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching. For 2019-20, U.S. News and World Report ranked UC San Diego Health among the nation’s best in four adult medical and surgical specialties, including pulmonology, geriatrics, neurology and cardiology. The 808-bed academic health system includes UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and Jacobs Medical Center, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Moores Cancer Center, Shiley Eye Institute, Koman Family Outpatient Pavilion and Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, all in La Jolla, as well as primary care and same-day services at clinics throughout Southern California. For more information, visit

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