Clinical trials of antibody therapies designed to stop COVID-19 infections are ramping up to get underway in the region.
Among those preparing for intake of participants is LSU Health Sciences which will run their study out of University Medical Center.
Dr. Bennett deBoisblanc, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at LSU, says the aim is find a successful monoclonal antibody:
“The monoclonal antibody is an antibody like one that would normally be made by your body, but this one is specifically directed against one single protein that is part of a virus or a bacteria.”
Dr. deBoisblanc says the COVID-19 molecule literally has protein spikes that attach to healthy molecules and infect a person. He says the idea is create an antibody that will stop the spike from attaching to molecules and halt infection.
“We can develop antibodies that will neutralize that spike protein and prevent the virus from attaching.”
If successful, deBoisblanc says “Once we develop those antibodies, we can grow them up in the laboratory and mass produce them and use that as a therapeutic.”
deBoisblanc continues, “And because it’s a monoclonal, meaning it’s a specific antibody against only one particular part of the virus, it doesn’t cross react with other cells in your body, it only attacks the virus.”
According to Dr. deBoisblanc, “We’re anticipating enrolling a few hundred [at a time]. Each arm of the trial will have patients who receive placebo, and patients who receive active drug. And that’s the way we can know whether the drug is both safe and effective.”
“We should start recruitment within the next couple of weeks,” deBoisblanc says. “And we will be enrolling patients at University Medical Center, that’s the only site that’s enrolling locally.”