Pharmaceutical progress! A Canadian COVID-19 treatment is officially entering phase three clinical trials after getting approval from Health Canada. If it's successful it could be available before the end of 2020. 

The company behind this new treatment is a Canadian biotech start-up called Pulmonem Inc. In a news release, it announced the approval for the trials of its oral medication as drug therapy in the fight against COVID-19. 

In the end, it won't prevent the disease but could help avoid an "excessive immune reaction" which is what often causes severe symptoms and hospitalization related to the disease. 

The medicine is a new version of Dapsone. The drug itself has been around for a while but it's being reformed to target the current virus. In the past, it's been used to treat lupus, malaria, HIV and more. 

According to the company, this means it could be ready to go sooner. 

"Because the new medication is a reformulation of an existing drug for a new indication, this therapy could be available on a much-accelerated timeline compared to others in development," they said in the news release. "It could be ready to be administered to Canadians before the end of 2020."

Of course that all depends on funding. 

Pulmonem has partnered with McGill University Health Centre's Research Institute to help raise some money for the trials but they're also looking for some extra funding, either public or private, to get it going. 

Once that's secured, the trials are set to begin as early as this month. 

Phase three will be a randomized clinical trial with 2,000 patients, not only in Canada but also in the United States, at seven different centres. 

The company says that north of the border they're looking at a start date in September while the U.S. could see trials begin late this month or in early October. 

Back in July, Health Canada approved another drug called remdesivir to treat COVID-19.

It's also used to treat extreme symptoms of the virus, specifically in patients who need extra oxygen to help them breathe. 

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