Published December 2, 2020
Western New Yorkers who were recently exposed to a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19 now have an opportunity to be treated with a promising drug being investigated for COVID-19 infection.
Researchers at the University at Buffalo are recruiting household members of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to enroll in the UB study of Regeneron’s national clinical trial of the investigational antibody cocktail REGN-COV2. The drug has been shown to block infectivity of the novel coronavirus.
“At a time when our region is unfortunately experiencing an uptick in cases, we are pleased that we are able to provide Western New Yorkers with the opportunity to enroll in a study of this very promising potential COVID-19 treatment,” says Sanjay Sethi, MD, principal investigator on the study and professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The monoclonal antibody treatment is believed to reduce the severity of symptoms in individuals exposed to COVID-19 or possibly even prevent symptoms entirely.
“If, for example, I test positive, then any member of my household could be eligible for this treatment provided that they haven’t begun experiencing symptoms,” Sethi says.
The availability of a discrete site where individuals exposed to the novel coronavirus could be safely treated without exposing other patients was an important factor in being able to host this study in Western New York.
Sethi explains that the study was able to go forward thanks to the efforts of Michael E. Cain, MD, dean of the Jacobs School and vice president for health sciences, in making available for the research a medical school clinic on Maple Road in Amherst that isn’t currently in use.
“We are very grateful to the dean that this clinic that isn’t currently in use was made available to us so that we could proceed with this critical study,” Sethi says.
At the site, potential participants will receive a rapid test for COVID-19. They will be able to participate whether or not they test positive.
Individuals who are symptomatic will not be eligible for this study, but could consider participating in treatment trials being conducted at UB for mild to moderate COVID-19.
Participants will receive a single dose divided into four subcutaneous (under the skin) injections of either the treatment or a placebo. Because the study is double-blind, neither the participant nor the health care personnel administering the injections will know what the injections consist of.
Unlike antibodies contained in convalescent plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19, this antibody drug is manufactured in the laboratory, and it has been designed to bind to the spike protein of the coronavirus, thus possibly blocking the virus’s ability to invade cells and multiply.