for people ages 18 years and up (full criteria)
at Fresno, California and other locations
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Sulggi A Lee, MD PhD
Photo of Sulggi A Lee
Sulggi A Lee



Disulfiram (DSF) a safe, easily dosed, FDA-approved drug for the treatment of alcohol dependence has been identified to be a potential therapeutic target for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Disulfiram may have both antiviral (inhibiting viral replication via blocking the Mpro protease and zinc ejection) and anti-inflammatory effects (via inhibition of NF-kB-induced and NLRP inflammasome-induced cytokine release) on SARS-CoV-2. We will study oral disulfiram given for 5 consecutive days (1000 mg/day in cohort 1; 2000 mg/day in cohort 2) in 60 symptomatic COVID+ individuals in a randomized (2:1) randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial evaluating disulfiram's effect on COVID-19 symptom severity, SARS-CoV-2 viral load, and biomarkers of inflammation and pyroptosis (aberrant pro-inflammatory cell death) over 31 days.

Official Title

DISulfiram for COvid-19 (DISCO) Trial: A Phase 2 Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of Disulfiram Compared to Standard Care in Patients With Symptomatic COVID-19


The identification of a safe, effective treatment for individuals with early mild-to-moderate symptomatic COVID-19 that prevent progression to more severe disease would have immediate public health implications. A hallmark of severe COVID-19 disease is immune system dysregulation called cytokine storm. Multiple studies have reported that patients with severe disease demonstrate elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines early in disease, and elevated IL-6 plasma concentrations are predictive of poor clinical outcomes in COVID-19. Disulfiram, an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of alcohol dependence disorder is an appealing therapeutic option for COVID-19. It has a good safety profile, easy dosing schedule, and recent data suggesting multiple mechanisms by which disulfiram may act on COVID-19 (both as a direct antiviral agent as well as indirect effects on reducing inflammation). In addition disulfiram has been studied extensively with detailed available pharmacokinetic data; disulfiram has a short half-life ~7.5 hours with >90% of drug eliminated within 3 days post-dose, allowing quick reversal of any potential adverse effects. We will perform a phase 2 randomized (2:1), double blind placebo-controlled assessment of disulfiram in people with early mild-to-moderate symptomatic COVID-19. A total of 60 symptomatic COVID+ individuals will enrolled to receive active drug versus placebo (with equal distribution of mild or moderate/severe within each dosing cohort and within each randomization arm). For cohort 1, N=20 will receive DSF 1000 mg/N=10 placebo, and for cohort 2, N=20 will receive DSF 2000 mg/N=10 placebo. Drug/placebo will be administered using strict infection control protocols designed to support the study of people with acute COVID-19 infection per the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) guidelines (


Covid19 Disulfiram COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18 years and up

  • Willing and able to provide written informed consent, and
  • Age >= 18 years, and
  • SARS-CoV-2 positive PCR (nucleic acid) test within the preceding 7 days, and
  • Not currently hospitalized, and
  • Willing to abstain from any alcohol during the two week period in which disulfiram will be administered and during the two week period immediately after disulfiram administration.
  • Both male and female subjects are eligible. Females of childbearing potential must have a negative pregnancy test at screening and agree to use a double-barrier method of contraception throughout the study period.

You CAN'T join if...

  • Pregnant, breastfeeding, or unwilling to practice birth control during participation in the study
  • Active malignancy requiring systemic chemotherapy or surgery in the preceding 3 months or for whom such therapies are expected in the subsequent 6 months
  • Decompensated liver disease as defined by the presence of ascites, encephalopathy, esophageal or gastric varices, or persistent jaundice
  • Serious illness requiring systemic treatment and/or hospitalization in the 3 months prior to study enrollment
  • Concurrent treatment with immunomodulatory drugs, and/or exposure to any immunomodulatory drug in the 4 weeks prior to study enrollment (e.g. corticosteroid therapy equal to or exceeding a dose of 15 mg/day of prednisone for more than 10 days,

IL-2, interferon-alpha, methotrexate, cancer chemotherapy). NOTE: use of inhaled or nasal steroid is not exclusionary.

  • Serious medical or psychiatric illness that, in the opinion of the site investigator, would interfere with the ability to adhere to study requirements or to give informed consent.
  • Current alcohol use disorder or hazardous alcohol use (>7 drinks per week for women or > 14 drinks per week for men) as determined by clinical evaluation.
  • Current use of any drug formulation that contains alcohol or that might contain alcohol
  • Current use of warfarin.
  • Clinically active hepatitis determined by the study physician; ALT or AST > 3 x the upper limit of normal or total bilirubin outside the normal range.
  • Allergy to rubber or thiuram derivatives


  • University of California San Francisco, Fresno accepting new patients
    Fresno California 93701 United States
  • San Francisco General Hospital not yet accepting patients
    San Francisco California 94110 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Sulggi A Lee, MD PhD
    Associate Professor, Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 39 research publications.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Phase 2
Study Type
Last Updated