Laredo doctor leading local trial for COVID-19 treatment

By Julia Wallace, Laredo Morning Times

Updated

4:42 pm CDT, Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dr. Asuncion Ramos-Soriano is running a trial testing the effectiveness of nitazoxanide on COVID-19.

Dr. Asuncion Ramos-Soriano is running a trial testing the effectiveness of nitazoxanide on COVID-19.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Dr. Asuncion Ramos-Soriano is running a trial testing the effectiveness of nitazoxanide on COVID-19.

Dr. Asuncion Ramos-Soriano is running a trial testing the effectiveness of nitazoxanide on COVID-19.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Laredo doctor leading local trial for COVID-19 treatment

Dr. Asuncion Ramos-Soriano, a local pediatric gastroenterologist, has been utilizing nitazoxanide for years to treat children sick with various infections and diseases.

She found the drug to be extremely successful and even published her own studies on her clinical experience with nitazoxanide out of her private practice.

“My familiarity with this drug has really made me look into its uses,” Soriano said.

And the use is in fact broad. Patients with various diseases, infections, parasites and even some viruses, including SARS, MERS, Ebola and Zika, have been successfully treated with nitazoxanide.

As COVID-19 swept the world, Soriano looked into the possibility of treating this new virus with the same drug. And Romark Laboratories, which manufactures nitazoxanide in the U.S., was already in the midst of trials to this end.

In July she contacted Romark about bringing the trial to Laredo, and was approved for a phase three trial a couple of weeks ago.

Soriano and Monica Gonzalez, clinical project director of Envision Clinical Research, join about 20 other cities in this double-blind nitazoxanide trial involving 800 participants total. In the Laredo area they will be working with about 100 participants, in particular health care workers.

Soriano and Gonzalez are gathering nurses, doctors, technicians, EMTs and anyone else who works within six feet of people who may be COVID-19 positive. They want to prove that this drug can be a successful frontline therapy.

“We’re not competing with any drug out there, or a vaccine or an intravenous medication. We all know that COVID-19 has really alluded all scientists,” Soriano said. “… People are just behooved by this particular virus.”

In this trial, the outcome measure will be the number of symptomatic subjects at the end of the six-week trial.

Participants will take a 600 milligram tablet of nitazoxanide, or a placebo, twice a day for the length of the trial and keep a daily log of any symptoms or side effects. And to see if anyone is exposed to COVID-19 during the trial but does not come down with symptoms, they’ll be checking for antibodies as well. Subjects will also need to be COVID-19 negative at the start of the study.

“Compared to anyone else in the community, (health care workers) are at the highest risk of exposure. That would be an ideal subject population to look at efficacy of this COVID-19 (treatment),” Gonzalez said. “Whereas the community can go in and out of the H-E-B, go in and grab some groceries, grab a burger — but in reality our exposure rate in day-to-day activities is not even comparable to that of a health care worker.”

Nitazoxanide was developed to treat gastrointestinal problems, and COVID-19 is known for attacking patients’ respiratory systems. But Gonzalez notes that 75% of humans’ immune systems are in the digestive tract.

And studies have found that COVID-19 can still be found in patients’ stool for a week after their respiratory symptoms have ended, Soriano said.

Julia Wallace may be reached at 956-728-2543 or jwallace@lmtonline.com


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