Doctors in Memphis are recruiting participants to be part of a nationwide clinical trial testing the effectiveness of a drug to both treat and possibly prevent COVID-19 infections.
Clinicians at Regional One Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will be looking at a synthetic antibody treatment method developed by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron.
They’ll examine if the drug, given through an infusion, can lessen the severity of illness for a COVID-positive individual who has symptoms but has not been hospitalized.
“If you can get them enrolled, maybe you’re going to change the trajectory of that patient,” says Dr. John Jefferies, the trial’s principal investigator. “Maybe they would have done fine without it. We don’t know, but they could have been one of these people that slid off the edge and require a ventilator.”
Jefferies and his team are also recruiting people who share a household with someone who has tested positive for COVID to see if the drug can prevent an infection in a potential high-exposure situation.
They’ll follow these subjects for several months afterwards to see if and how long protection could last.
The drug works by using lab-designed antibodies to mimic real ones, which are proteins the body develops all the time to fight diseases.
“So if you see the virus, it’s like a globe and it has these little things jetting off of it. What we’re talking about is these antibodies will come in and bind to that little spike,” Jefferies says. “That spike is how it normally gets into the cell.”
If the antibodies can block that spike, the virus cannot attach to body tissue such as in the lung and replicate to start doing damage.
Study participation information can be found here.