According to a new study, patients with COVID-19 who received a new antibody had fewer symptoms and were less likely to need hospitalization or emergency medical care than those who did not receive therapy.
The ongoing Phase II clinical trial, the provisional results of which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine, tested three different doses of LY-CoV555, a monoclonal antibody derived from the blood of a recovered COVID-19 patient.
The analysis indicated a reduced viral load in outpatients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 at the 2,800-milligram dosage level, along with reduced rates of hospitalization and emergency medical care among patients at all dosage levels.
“For me, the most significant finding was a reduction in hospitalizations,” said study co-author Peter Chen of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the United States.
“Monoclonal antibodies like this have the potential to reduce the severity of COVID-19 for many patients, allowing more people to recover at home,” said Chen.
According to the researchers, monoclonal antibodies act by binding to a virus and preventing its replication.
They said that LY-CoV555 binds to a specific protein in the new coronavirus, called the spike protein, which the virus needs to enter human cells and replicate.
By preventing the virus from replicating, scientists said the antibody slows down the replication process, allowing the patient’s own immune system time to take action.
“What we are doing is preventing the virus from causing too much damage early in the process,” said Chen.
“We are saving patients’ time so that their bodies can begin to develop their own immunity to fight the virus,” he added.
In the study, patients received intravenous doses of 700, 2,800 or 7,000 milligrams of the antibody, or a placebo.
“In this interim analysis of a phase 2 trial, one of the three doses of the neutralizing antibody LY-CoV555 appeared to accelerate the natural decline in viral load over time, while the other doses did not do so on day 11,” wrote the scientists in the study.
The researchers used a nasopharyngeal smear to test patients’ viral load before administering the antibody and again at various points after administering the drug.
They also gave patients a questionnaire about their subsequent symptoms and treatment.
According to the study, nearly 300 patients received treatment (100 patients per dosage level) and approximately 150 patients received placebo.
Of the three dosage levels, the scientists said that the 2,800 milligram dosage proved to be effective in reducing viral load.
On day 11, they said the viral load was substantially decreased for most patients, including those in the placebo arm.
However, the researchers said that more studies will be needed to validate these results.
“Publishing this data in a peer-reviewed journal adds to the growing body of evidence for the potential usefulness of neutralizing antibodies as therapy for people recently diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19, particularly high-risk patients,” said Ajay Nirula, another co-author of the study.
“These data show that LY-CoV555 can be effective in the treatment of COVID-19, reducing viral load, symptoms and the risk of hospitalization in outpatients,” said Mr. Nirula.
On day 29, the study found that hospitalization rates were just 1.6 percent in the antibody-treated group, compared with 6.3 percent in the placebo group.
The researchers said the reduction in hospitalizations was seen in all demographic groups, including those in high-risk categories – adults over 65 and those with a high body mass index (over 35).
For high-risk patients, they said hospitalization rates were 4.2 percent in patients treated with the antibody, compared with 14.6 percent in patients treated with placebo.
The safety profile of patients treated with LY-CoV555 was similar to that of patients treated with placebo, the study noted.
“We know that COVID-19 is especially difficult for the elderly, obese and people with certain pre-existing health conditions,” said Chen.
“Antibody treatments like this may have more benefits for people in these high-risk categories,” he added.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by the NDTV team and is published from a syndicated feed.)