Florida-based company testing drug as possible COVID-19 therapeutic

Coronavirus

MIAMI (NewsNation) — A Miami-based company got special permission from the FDA to test a drug called Zofin as a therapeutic to help with symptoms from COVID-19.

Scientists with Organicell, a company based out of a University of Miami research building, said the drug has shown promising signs of easing symptoms.

“The FDA gave us approval to complete this phase 1 and 2 clinical trial to treat the moderate to severe COVID cases.,” Dr. Michael Bellio with Organicell said.

Bob Skelly, a Pittsburg resident, was one of the first five patients to try Zofin for COVID-19.

He was having trouble breathing and had a high fever.

“After the first infusion the pain in my chest was gone,” Skelly said.

Researchers say the drug has been used to treat arthritis and COPD. They say it improves respiratory function and allows patients to breathe easier with COVID-19. And they say it decreases the swelling inside the body associated with the virus.

“This is a multi-organ inflammatory condition that happens from the infection, so we have been able to prove that the medicine we have is actually targeting this inflammatory cascade that is impacting organs,” Dr. Mari Mitrani with Organicell said.

The Zofin study is one of about one thousand different studies the FDA has approved through their emergency investigational new drug program.

They’re trying to speed up the process to find out what could help with COVID symptoms.

“Therapeutics are incredibly important because vaccines are more of a preventative, and prevent people from getting sick,”Bellio said. But currently there are thousands of people who have injuries from this disease that are acute and chronic. And we really need to help people recover.”

Skelly is glad his doctor knew about the experimental drug.

“I’m very happy that I was given the opportunity to be a part of that trial. I’m really excited. Here I am completely better. My COVID tests are negative. I’m feeling great and back to doing everything I used to do.,” Skelly said.

The experimental trials of Zofin continue and there are no guarantees the FDA will approve the drug for treatment of COVID-19. Scientists hope to ramp up the trials over the next several months.

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