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  • Posted Tuesday May 5, 2020

TGen and HonorHealth Initiate COVID-19 Combination Therapy of Atovaquone and Azithromycin

Established combination seen as safer option for coronavirus therapy; will add data to TGen COVID Immunity Study and virus sequencing efforts

Click here to see the TGen-HonorHealth press conference

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — May 5, 2020
The HonorHealth Research Institute and HonorHealth announced today the successful enrollment on a novel combination of atovaquone and azithromycin in patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 infection. The clinical trial, conducted in collaboration with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, is funded as an investigator-initiated clinical trial by HonorHealth Research Institute. This is one of 10 clinical trials that the HonorHealth Research Institute is working on related to COVID-19 to understand the biology, spread and treatment of COVID-19.

“We are excited to launch this trial in patients with COVID-19 infection. The combination of atovaquone and azithromycin has been previously studied in other infectious conditions and we hope that if proven active, it may represent a well-tolerated option for patients infected with COVID-19,” said Michael S. Gordon, M.D., Medical Director of HonorHealth Research Institute and co-Principal Investigator of the trial.

“This is the first trial in the United States, and the first trial made available to patients in Arizona, that involves this specific combination of therapies,” said Kiran Avancha, Ph.D., R.Ph., chief operating officer, HonorHealth Research Institute. “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.”

The combination of atovaquone and azithromycin has the advantage of less risk of cardiac side effects compared to other potential COVID-19 treatments. Laboratory modeling suggests that atovaquone may be an active drug in the treatment of COVID-19 and its combination with azithromycin, studied in the rare infectious disease babesiosis, makes this an intriguing combination to study in COVID-19.

HonorHealth will be enrolling approximately 25 patients into the study, which enrolled its first patient on April 29. Eligibility criteria can be found on the website.

The study will analyze interval nasopharyngeal swabs during treatment to quantitate COVID-19 viral load as well as assess additional clinical and laboratory determinants to determine response to therapy.  Additional laboratory studies performed by TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division, its infectious disease branch, will assess antibody production as well as genomic sequencing of the virus’ RNA to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 virus.

“HonorHealth and TGen are excited to be working together on this project and are hopeful that the translational research that is part of this and other studies TGen is conducting will open new avenues for diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in the future,” said Sunil Sharma, M.D., FACP, MBA one of the clinical trial’s principal investigators with dual appointments at HonorHealth Research Institute and TGen. “We are hopeful that our analysis of antibody production will give us important insights about crucial targets for treatment in the future.”

HonorHealth continues to assess options for improving management of patients infected with COVID-19. The HonorHealth Research Institute is focused on expanding its breadth of options to other programs in the Valley in an effort to develop a coalition against this serious health risk.

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About HonorHealth:
HonorHealth is a non-profit, local community healthcare system serving an area of 1.6 million people in the greater Phoenix area. The network encompasses five acute-care hospitals, an extensive medical group, outpatient surgery centers, a cancer care network, clinical research, medical education, a foundation and community services with approximately 12,300 employees, 3,700 affiliated physicians and 3,100 volunteers. HonorHealth was formed by a merger between Scottsdale Healthcare and John C. Lincoln Health Network. HonorHealth’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of those we serve. Learn more at

About HonorHealth Research Institute
HonorHealth Research Institute is helping shape the future of medicine. We're finding cures and improving treatments in areas like gene therapy, early drug/device development, early detection and prevention of disease. Through our clinical trials and applied research, we’ve given hope and improved the lives of patients from all 50 states and 28 different countries around the globe. Our advanced technologies and cutting-edge treatment options are introducing tomorrow’s cures, today. Find a clinical trial or learn more at

About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases:  This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases through cutting-edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research toward patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children.  Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

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