The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), HonorHealth Research Institute, and HonorHealth have started enrolling patients for a clinical trial of atovaquone plus azithromycin to treat moderate-to-severe Covid-19.

The investigator-initiated study is funded by the HonorHealth Research Institute, which is performing nine other trials associated with Covid-19.

Atovaquone plus azithromycin combination was studied in other infectious disease and is expected to offer a well-tolerated option for patients infected with the novel coronavirus.

HonorHealth Research Institute chief operating officer Kiran Avancha said: “This is the first trial in the US, and the first trial made available to patients in Arizona, that involves this specific combination of therapies.

“We are proud to be supporting this ‘home grown’ innovation here at the Institute, where we have been working with other front line providers, scientists and experts across the globe to bring several Covid-19 trials up in record time to support our patients and providers amid this pandemic.”

According to TGen, the combination has less risk for cardiac side effects compared to other potential Covid-19 therapies. In laboratory modelling, atovaquone was indicated to be an active drug for Covid-19 while its combination drug, azithromycin, has been studied in the rare infectious disease babesiosis.

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HonorHealth will enrol around 25 patients for the latest clinical trial, which will assess interval nasopharyngeal swabs to quantitate Covid-19 viral load and evaluate other clinical and laboratory determinants for response to therapy.

TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division will conduct additional laboratory studies to analyse antibody generation, along with genomic sequencing of the RNA of the virus, to better understand SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

The an open-label, non-randomised trial is expected to be completed in October this year.