MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center is participating in two multi-national clinical trials testing the effectiveness and safety of two different anti-viral treatments designed to reduce the severity and potentially stop the spread of COVID-19 in both hospitalized and ambulatory patients, it was announced Tuesday.
MemorialCare’s research team, led by pulmonary and critical care medicine specialist Dr. Jimmy Johannes, is studying a combination of two monoclonal antibodies developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
The antibodies are designed to target and block the “spike” protein of SARS-CoV2, which is the part of the virus that attaches to and infects healthy human cells. The use of monoclonal antibodies as an anti-viral has been shown to be effective in treating Ebola.
“One of the most important ways our immune system fights infections from viruses is by making antibodies against the virus. Because of this, the use of monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV2 is considered to be a very promising approach for treating COVID-19,” Johannes said.
“Antibody treatments are a proven treatment approach with a strong history of safety and tolerability,” he said. “We use monoclonal antibodies to treat conditions like autoimmune diseases, various cancers and asthma. Nevertheless, despite our optimism for the efficacy and safety of monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19, it is imperative that we prove that this approach is truly effective and safe with these randomized controlled trials.”
Long Beach Medical Center recently participated in expanded access studies of the drug Remdesivir and convalescent plasma. The FDA recently provided Emergency Use Authorization of those two treatments for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
“A safe and effective vaccine is going to be crucial for overcoming this pandemic. We hope that a vaccine will be available by the first half of 2021, but evaluating vaccine safety and efficacy requires time and large high quality clinical trials,” Johannes said. “Because a safe and effective vaccine is by no means a guarantee and may take longer than expected to develop and distribute, it is important that we also find effective treatments for COVID-19. If it is found to be effective, monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of COVID-19 may serve as a bridge to widespread vaccination against SARS-CoV2.”
More information about the study can be found on Regeneron’s website at www.regeneron.com/covid19 and at ClinicalTrials.gov.