The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced the launch of large-scale clinical trials to test a drug specifically designed to treat Covid-19.
It is an antibody to coronavirus called LY-CoV555, detected in the blood of a recovering patient by the Canadian company AbCellera Biologics. This antibody was then synthetically developed to be produced in industrial quantities by American Lilly Research Laboratories.
The Phase 3 study (the last phase) will begin by recruiting 300 volunteers worldwide, inpatients but with mild or moderate symptoms. Half receive the drug (by injection), the other half placebo to discover the true effectiveness of treatment. All will also be treated normally against Covid-1
Another arm in the clinical trial will test for synthetic antibodies in outpatient care.
Antibodies are proteins that the immune system extracts to attach to invading viruses and prevent them from entering cells in the human body.
The vaccines aim to, in patients who are not infected with coronavirus, trigger the production of the immune system of these antibodies in a preventive way according to several methods that are being tested around the world.
For people who are already ill, two treatments have so far been approved, remdesivir and dexamethasone.
Another treatment option that is currently being evaluated is to inject antibodies taken from people who have been infected but have recovered, which is called convalescent plasma. However, this alternative, if proven effective, is not possible on a large scale, which explains the development of synthetic antibodies, called monoclonal antibodies.