SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota Memorial Hospital has joined a multi-national trial to test a new dual-action antibody treatment researchers hope could reduce the severity of or even stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
The trial is being led locally by Manuel Gordillo, MD, medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s infection prevention and control efforts.
On Thursday, hospital staff began administering Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ experimental treatment (REGN-COV2) to coronavirus patients who met the criteria for the study. Currently, the trial is just open to patients in the hospital. But, it could expand to non-hospitalized patients with milder symptoms as early as next week.
“We’re very excited about this trial, which involves the first antiviral antibody cocktail specifically designed to attack a critical part of the coronavirus, the spike protein that attaches to human cells,” Dr. Gordillo explained in a news release. “In early laboratory tests, it completely obliterated the coronavirus at relatively low concentrations.”
SMH is one of three Florida hospitals and 150 research sites in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Chile that is participating in a second wave of trials that follow positive results from a Phase 1 safety trial. A separate trial to gauge the antibody cocktail’s ability to prevent infections in people who are closely exposed to infected people will soon begin.
“As hospitalizations increase, we thankfully have a greater understanding of COVID-19 and more potential treatment options than at the start of the pandemic,” Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder said in a statement.
Earlier this year, SMH was part of a nationwide study to evaluate the antiviral drug Remdesivir. Researchers say it showed promising results. That trial has since ended, and the drug is in short supply.
Sarasota Memorial also took part in a clinical trial to judge the effectiveness of convalescent plasma. The goal was to use plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat people currently in the hospital. Doctors say that also showed encouraging results.
"To date, SMH has given the plasma to 36 patients but is now facing a critical shortage," the hospital wrote in a statement.
Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is encouraged to contact Suncoast Blood Centers to see if they qualify to donate plasma. It can be reached at 941-993-8119 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
RELATED: What counts as a COVID-19 death? Is the virus becoming less deadly? We answer your common questions.
- 93 more Floridians confirmed dead after testing positive for COVID-19, state reports 11,433 new cases
- MacDill Air Force Base crews remove military marking round from Lido Beach
- State orders Brandon assisted living facility to stop accepting new residents due to improperly handling COVID-19 infections
- Pinellas County Schools releases reopening plan for upcoming school year
- Polk County Publix workers test positive for coronavirus
- 'We're the epicenter' | Epidemiologists say action to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Florida needs to be taken now
- Walt Disney World reopening: What to know before you go
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter