PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — UPMC is unveiling a new type of clinical trial today in response to the Coronavirus pandemic that they hope speeds up testing of treatments.

Dr. Derek Angus, the chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine, discussed the development of the trial platform, called REMAP-COVID, during a news conference Thursday morning. Patients currently being treated at UPMC facilities are being asked if they want to join a trial of potential therapies to treat the virus.

According to UPMC, the trial was developed by Dr. Angus and other international researchers and designed to find treatments for “severe pneumonia both in non-pandemic and pandemic settings.”

When COVID-19 began spreading, UPMC says the program was altered to fit the needs of the pandemic.

UPMC says the trial addresses one of the biggest debates of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In their press release, it describes the debate as: “How should doctors decide between quickly adopting new therapies, such as the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, and waiting until they are tested in longer clinical trials?”

Dr. Angus says in the press release: “The solution is to find an optimal tradeoff between doing something now, such as prescribing a drug off-label, or waiting until traditional clinical trials are complete. We’ve developed a way to do that with an adaptive clinical trial model that relies on a type of artificial intelligence known as reinforcement learning to identify the best, evidence-backed therapy for COVID-19 much faster than using the traditional scientific approach.”

The REMAP program – or randomized, embedded, multi-factorial, adaptive platform – allows “multiple treatment approaches simultaneously at a lower cost and with fewer patients than traditional clinical trials.” They describe it as a “learn while doing trial.”

UPMC is treating 97 patients across its hospital system, with 53 of them being treated in southwestern Pennsylvania. Most of those at UPMC Passavant Hospital in McCandless and UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Oakland.

REMAP-COVID will offer patients a variety of treatments including Hydroxychloriquine, steroids, immunomodulators and more.

The study will still take five weeks to a couple of months, but Dr. Angus says if a treatment emerges as working doctors won’t hesitate to use it.

Dr. Angus suspects the ultimate answer will come from a combination of therapies that have yet to be tried.

Information about the program is being published today in a medical journal, and doctors hope it fast-tracks the testing of treatments, hydroxychloroquine and others, in the fight against COVID-19.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic: