Clinical trial for double-antibody COVID-19 treatment underway at Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of three medical facilities in the state participating in a clinical trial, testing a new dual-action antibody treatment on patients infected with COVID-19.

It uses what doctors say are the most effective antibodies to attack a critical part of the coronavirus, but these antibodies aren't from recovered patients, they're grown in a lab.

There are more than 100 people currently being treated at SMH for coronavirus. It’s not clear how many are taking this new experimental medication. On Thursday, the hospital just became the first in Florida to start enrolling patients.

The new medication is being hailed as the most promising COVID-19 treatment; one that can potentially prevent further spread of the virus until a vaccine is made.

“The tests that they have done in-vitro and the test tubes are fabulous; they completely obliterate coronavirus at relatively low concentrations,” said Dr. Manuel Gordillo, Medical Director for Sarasota Memorial Hospital Infection Prevention and Control.

Developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the experimental medication REGN-Cov2 uses two specific antibodies that neutralize the virus. Regeneron says this dual cocktail forms a potent and effective therapy, mimicking the natural way human bodies fight off infection.

“This is a new antibody that has been specifically designed to attack the spike protein which is a critical part of the coronavirus; it’s the part of the virus that attaches to the human cells,” Gordillo said.

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The phase two trial of this powerful, lab-grown antibody mix is testing how well it reduces the severity of the virus and blocks active infection in hospitalized patients.

The trial could be expanded as soon as next week at SMH for non-hospitalized patients who have milder COVID-19 symptoms.

“This is cutting edge technology. This is the most advanced technology out there that has been created in the last few months since the advent of this virus,” said Gordillo.

A separate preventative trial is also being conducted to test if this antibody medication can stop someone from being infected after being in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

If the clinical trials are successful and the FDA gives Regeneron the green light, the company already has a contract with the federal government to ramp up production and make the double-antibody cocktail available immediately.