The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Tuesday the start of large-scale clinical trials to test a drug specifically designed to treat covid-19.
It is an antibody against the coronavirus called LY-CoV555, discovered by the Canadian company AbCellera Biologics in the blood of a patient who recovered from the disease.
The antibody was synthesized for production on an industrial scale by the American Lilly Research Laboratories, in association with AbCellera.
The phase III trial (the last one) will begin by recruiting 300 volunteers worldwide from hospitalized patients who have had mild to moderate covid-19 symptoms for less than 13 days.
Half will receive the medicine (by injection) and the other half a placebo to discover the real effectiveness of the treatment. All will also be treated with normal protocols against covid-19.
Another part of the clinical trial will test synthetic antibodies in outpatients.
Antibodies are proteins that the immune system unfolds to attach to invading viruses and thus prevent them from entering cells in the human body.
The vaccines aim to trigger, in patients not infected with the coronavirus, the production of antibodies by the immune system in a preventive way, according to various methods that are being tested around the world.
For people who are already sick, two treatments have been approved for up to one hour, remdesivir and dexamethasone.
Another treatment option being evaluated is injecting the antibodies taken from people who have already recovered, which is known as convalescent plasma.
However, this option, although effective, does not allow a large-scale application, which explains the development of synthetic antibodies, also called monoclonal antibodies.