MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota Medical School is studying whether a common diabetes drug could help treat COVID-19.

Researchers are in the process of recruiting volunteers for the clinical trial involving Metformin. The drug is FDA approved to treat Type 2 diabetes.

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As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out to try prevent disease, the U Medical School is studying a drug already on the market to see if it could be used in treating the virus.

“One area there is a lot of need still is that early outpatient treatment,” Dr. Carolyn Bramante, with University of Minnesota Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, said.

The clinical trial will look at immune response and hospitalization rates of people diagnosed with COVID-19 after taking the oral drug Metformin. Recent positive test patients will be given a 14-day Metformin prescription or a placebo.

Researchers want to study Metformin after observing that COVID-19 positive patients that were taking Metformin before they got the disease tended to have less severe outcomes.

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“To see if it reduces severity of COVID-19 disease and reduces the long term effects even in mild cases,” Bramante said.

The study is also unique in that it will be the only COVID-19 clinical trial in the world to include pregnant women, who are higher risk for COVID complications. They were left out of the vaccine trials, which is standard in studying new drugs.

If Metformin proves to be successful in the trial, the goal would have it to marketed also as a way to treat COVID-19 where you could go to your pharmacy and pick it up to manage your symptoms at home.

“If we find Metformin doesn’t work, that’s valuable so other trials starting can study other medications,” Bramante said.

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Researchers are looking for volunteers between the ages of 30 and 85 with a BMI at or above 25. They will be compensated.

Kate Raddatz