Researchers from the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) School of Medicine in the US have initiated a clinical trial to study hypertension drug Ramipril as a potential Covid-19 treatment.

Ramipril is one of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drugs commonly used to treat cardiovascular conditions.

The drug is approved for high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetic kidney disease.

During the latest trial, Ramipril will be assessed for its potential to decrease the severity of Covid-19, lower intensive care unit admission rates, mechanical ventilators use, and all-cause mortality.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial will be conducted at several sites, while UC San Diego will be the primary coordinator.

Designed to run for 12 months, the trial will involve up to 560 patients with Covid-19 symptoms at emergency departments or those currently hospitalised with the infection.

UC San Diego School of Medicine professor and study investigator Rohit Loomba said: “There are no approved, proven treatments yet for Covid-19, which has infected millions worldwide and killed nearly 200,000, with the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight.

“We’re investigating whether drugs called ACE inhibitors might be part of the remedy.”

The angiotensin-converting enzyme2 (ACE2) receptor is known to be the cellular entry point for coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1.

According to research, the ACE inhibitors increase the expression and availability of ACE2 receptors and boosts the number of entry points for SARS-CoV-2 throughout the body.

UC San Diego noted ‘compelling evidence’ that ACE inhibitors could potentially reduce Covid-19 mortality by mitigating disease severity, the need for intensive care units admission or mechanical ventilator support for breathing.

Loomba added: “Our hypothesis is that ACE inhibitor drugs help keep the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAAS) system in balance and functioning optimally.

“SARS infections create an imbalance, triggering feedback loops that promote inflammation and injury, a vicious cycle of pathological consequences that wrack the lungs, heart and other organs, and kill.”