UK Professor explains monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – According to ‘Eli Lilly and Company’ patients in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are now receiving the Monoclonal Antibody treatment for the Coronavirus.

Dr. Don Cohen a UK professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics says the treatment will lessen the severity and shorten the timeframe of the disease.

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This treatment is similar to plasma therapy in that antibodies are passed on to someone with the disease.

The main difference is with plasma therapy, one donation is able to treat four patients, this antibody therapy could treat millions.

“It is a therapy for the treatment of active disease, it is not a vaccine. One disadvantage to using monoclonal antibodies is that those antibodies when transfused into patients will disappear in about three months, in contrast, a vaccine has the potential to last years,” Dr. Cohen said.

This is a temporary solution until an appropriate vaccine is developed.
Dr. Cohen says, with all therapies, there’s a chance it will not be as effective and there will be some failures.

The virus is still in the community and although it has slowed down he says once people begin to come in contact again, there is a possibility for another spike.

So how long will the trials last? Dr. Cohen says, clinical trials usually come in a three-phase trial:

-First phase: Test for toxicity. Can a small group tolerate the drug?
-Second phase: Efficacy with a larger group. Includes thousands of people.
-Third phase: Treat large numbers to evaluate.

“The Eli Lilly trial that is going on right now is really an amazing development because when we develop monoclonal antibodies for therapy now, it takes usually a year to a year and a half before you really can grow the antibody in large amounts to be able to treat patients. Eli Lilly with a collaborator, a biotech company in Canada, really developed this within three months,” Dr. Cohen said.

Results are expected in late June.

If the trial proves to be effective against COVID-19 the treatment could be available by fall.