Spectrum Health launches Regeneron COVID-19 study

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the number of COVID-19 cases surge in West Michigan, there may be new hope when it comes to treating some of those cases.

Spectrum Health is now enrolling patients in a clinical trial for the antibody cocktail made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. It’s the same treatment President Donald Trump called a cure after his bout with COVID-19 earlier this month.

Researchers are hoping additional trials produce similar results for more widespread use of the antibody cocktail

The early outcomes are promising.

“We believe that this is the answer, that this might be the key in the treatment of COVID-19,” said Spectrum Health Research Physician Dr. Gordana Simeunovic.

But it takes more than a recovered president and positive preliminary results to call a treatment a success.

Spectrum Health is one of two health systems in the state to partner with Regeneron for the latest in the hospital trial.

“There are very good signals that it might be working. However, there is a long way ahead. We need to learn more and to be sure that it is helpful before it becomes available for everybody,” Simeunovic said.

Regeneron uses two coronavirus neutralizing antibodies, reducing symptoms while helping the body build up its own antibodies.

Preliminary results from a separate trial involving nonhospitalized patients conducted earlier this year showed no unexpected safety risks and that the drug did reduce the viral load and lessen symptoms in those patients.

While the reduction in symptoms makes patients feel better faster, it could also reduce the more dangerous and sometimes deadly effects of the virus.

“Virus is present in the blood. And virus multiplies in the blood. The more virus we have in the blood, it’s more likely that it will go to different organs and cause damage there,” Simeunovic said.

It’s a double-blind trial.

Some patients will be given the antibody cocktail and other will be given a placebo.

Neither the patient or the researcher will know which one was given to avoid any bias in the outcome of the study.

“I am very optimistic about this trial,” Simeunovic said.

“We know that patients are recovering from viral diseases with help of their own antibodies.”

Anyone with questions on the study can contact Spectrum Health at covid19research@spectrumhealth.org.