Trial for Investigational COVID-19 Drug Enrolls First Patient


Vadadustat Team enrolling patient

The Vadadustat Trial Team

The clinical trial studying vadadustat for the prevention and treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 enrolled its first patient on August 22, 2020 at Memorial Hermann Hospital–Texas Medical Center. The phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial is led by Bentley Bobrow, MD, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Emergency Medicine, and Holger K. Eltzschig, MD, PhD, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Anesthesiology.

The investigational drug, vadadustat, is a synthetic, orally bioavailable hypoxia inducible factor prolyl-hydroxylases (HIF-PHs) inhibitor and is showing promise as a therapeutic option for treating anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease. The Bobrow-Eltzschig collaboration will evaluate the efficacy of vadadustat as a pharmacological treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

How it Works

Vadadustat is designed to mimic the body’s response to low oxygen levels (for example, at high-altitudes) which include increasing red blood cell production and improved oxygen delivery to the body’s organs.


Currently, the 18-month trial has received funding including industry support from Akebia Therapeutics, the COVID-19 Pilot Project Award sponsored by the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences at UTHealth, and the newly awarded Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program Clinical Trial Award for Emerging Viral Diseases and Respiratory Health from the Department of Defense.

Research Team

Principal Investigator:
Bentley J. Bobrow, MDDr. Bentley Bobrow
Paulina Sergot, M.D., FACEPPaulina Sergot, MDSamuel D. Luber, M.D., MPH, FACEPSamuel D. Luber, MD, MPH
David Robinson, M.D., MSDavid Robinson, MD, MS, MMMElizabeth Jones, MDElizabeth Jones, MD