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Feinstein Institutes undertaking clinical trials for coronavirus treatment

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The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research arm of Northwell Health, announced Friday morning that it was starting three large-scale clinical treatment trials to combat COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. 

Northwell Health is now treating some 250 coronavirus patients at its hospitals, Northwell President and CEO Michael Dowling said at a news conference that was streamed via YouTube. Northwell is testing roughly 1,000 people a day for the illness, he said.

Feinstein Institutes researchers are teaming up with Gilead Sciences and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to identify effective treatments for COVID-19 patients who are now hospitalized with moderate to severe conditions. The goal, according to a Northwell release, is "to improve recovery and speed discharge from hospitals."

With Gilead, the Feinstein Institutes will examine the safety and efficacy of remdesivir (RDV), an investigational antiviral drug, to reduce the intensity and duration of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.

RDV, Northwell officials said, has "demonstrated positive effects" on other viral pathogens such as MERS and SARS. The third trial with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals will determine the safety and efficacy of sarilumab, a human antibody that may prevent the spread of a specific cytokine called interleukin-6 (IL-6) that is thought to cause severe pneumonia in some COVID-19 patients.          

More to follow.