ATLANTA - Piedmont Healthcare is signing up COVID-19 patients for two new clinical trials, the Atlanta-based nonprofit health system announced Tuesday, May 5.

One of the trials, intended for patients who have tested positive for the virus, will evaluate the efficiency of the anti-inflammatory drug Gimsilumab. The other will investigate the value of repositioning patients to improve their oxygen levels.

“Piedmont’s mission is to serve its patents,” said Dr. Charles L. Brown III, CEO of Piedmont Healthcare’s Physician Enterprise. “Offering clinical trials designed to fight COVID-19 during this pandemic, we are delivering on our promise.”

Word of the new clinical trials came as the death toll from coronavirus in Georgia rose to 1,274. The number of Georgians who have tested positive for COVID-19 also increased Tuesday, May 5, to 29,640.

COVID-19 has two phases: an initial viral phase followed by an inflammatory phase. The drug Gimsilumab is designed to block inflammation in parts of the body and cool down the immune system’s response.

The trial will include 270 patients and is expected to be completed in October.

The second clinical trial will study whether having COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms lie prone on their stomachs soon after arriving at the hospital can improve their oxygen levels. The therapy has been shown helpful to patients suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Piedmont is enrolling 200 patients for the second trial, which is expected to be completed a year from now.

“These clinical trial options, with the experimental therapies they bring to our patient populations, are exciting in that they look at fighting the disease from different perspectives,” said Dr. Amy Hajari Case, Piedmont’s director of pulmonary and critical care research. She will serve as principal site investigator for both trials.

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