SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - As hospitals across the state are quickly running out of two of the most effective COVID-19 treatments, convalescent plasma and Remdesivir, one local hospital is the first in the state to start a new medication trial. Sarasota Memorial Hospital became a pioneer in medical research this month when it began using the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ Experimental Treatment.
It’s been about two weeks since Sarasota Memorial began this new trial and they are already set to expand to who it can be used on. Doctors say it’s the first treatment that really can give hope that it could potentially be a cure and a preventive treatment all in one.
“This is cutting edge technology. It’s the most advanced technology out there that has been created in the last few months since the outbreak of this virus. It’s the most promising treatment out there,” explained Dr. Manuel Gordillo, the Infectious Disease Specialist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
The Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ Experimental Treatment is the first antiviral, antibody cocktail specifically designed to attack a critical part of the coronavirus - the spike protein that attaches to human cells. The first part of this trial allowed the hospital to use it on anyone who was hospitalized with COVID-19 and needed oxygen.
“Viruses tend to mutate and become resistant to antibodies, but they have found that by giving two different antibodies, the virus has a hard time in developing escape mutants and becoming resistant to treatment,” Dr. Gordillo said.
The hospital has been able to recruit three times the amount of patients they had expected, and say it has been extremely successful. It’s a dual-action antibody treatment that is now moving to its second phase.
“We’ve learned a lot through this, and we continue to learn. We actually talk on a weekly basis and review all the literature. This thing is evolving rapidly, but we’re learning rapidly,” expressed Dr. Kirk Voelker, an ICU Pulmonologist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
In this next phase, outpatients that don’t need to be hospitalized, but do have COVID-19 and at least one symptom, can qualify for this trial immediately.