Sarasota Memorial Hospital this week joined a multi-national trial that is testing a new dual-action antibody treatment designed to reduce the severity and potentially stop the spread of COVID-19.
Led by Manuel Gordillo, MD, medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s Infection Prevention and Control and principal investigator for the Sarasota trial, SMH on Thursday became the first hospital in Florida to offer Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ experimental treatment (REGN-COV2) to COVID-19 patients who meet the study criteria. The trial initially is open to hospitalized patients, but it could be expanded as early as next week for non-hospitalized patients with milder symptoms.
“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,” said Dr. Gordillo. “In early laboratory tests, it completely obliterated the coronavirus at relatively low concentrations.”
Sarasota Memorial is one of three hospitals in Florida and among 150 research sites in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Chile that are participating in Phase 2/3 trials, which follow positive results demonstrated in a Phase 1 safety trial. A separate trial to evaluate the antiviral antibody cocktail’s ability to prevent infection among uninfected people who have had close exposure to a COVID-19 patient (such as a patient’s housemate) also will soon be under way.
Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder credited the experience and expertise of SMH physicians and research nurses for bringing yet another important therapy option for local patients infected with the virus.
“As hospitalizations increase, we thankfully have a greater understanding of COVID-19 and more potential treatment options than at the start of the pandemic,” Verinder said.
Earlier this year, SMH participated in a national study to assess the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has had promising results. Now that the trial has ended, however, the drug is in short supply, and SMH and other hospitals around the state are awaiting new shipments of the medication.
SMH also has been participating in a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of convalescent plasma. The study, which uses plasma donated by individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat current hospitalized patients, has also had encouraging results. To date, SMH has given the plasma to 36 patients, but is now facing a critical shortage. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the Suncoast Blood Centers to see if they qualify to donate plasma. Call the center at 941-993-8119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial is a regional medical center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 1 million patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 839-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care clinics and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers, to home health and skilled nursing and rehabilitation.