As the numbers of new COVID-19 cases begin to slowly level off and the death toll from those infected with the disease continue to rapidly rise, the medical community and public, in general, are hopeful that treatment can be developed in time to help those suffering the effects of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The scientific community may be getting close to answering those hopes.
Dr. George Yancopoulas is the president and chief scientific officer of a biotech company called Regeneron. In a Tuesday interview with Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, he explained ways of treating the disease that his company is working to develop.
Yancopoulas said Regeneron is currently conducting a controlled study into whether Kevzara, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, could be helpful to COVID-19 patients.
Reportedly, scientists in China had tried it and found that it may help control the lung inflammation that makes the disease so dangerous. Yancopoulas said that the tests in China were “uncontrolled anecdotal studies” and that his company was engaging in a controlled study to test the effectiveness of the drug against COVID-19 symptoms.
The other option that Yancopoulas discussed in the interview sounded like a direct dosage of antibodies.
Julia Michelle explains antibodies in an article for livestrong.com.
She says that our bodies naturally produce antibodies when attacked by viruses and other sickness causing agents that scientists call pathogens. A virus triggers lymphocytes in our bone marrow to create antibodies which destroy that particular pathogen specifically. Once the virus is destroyed, Michelle writes, the antibodies that were created remain in our body to keep us from getting sick from the same virus again.
When we receive a vaccination, the shot we are given causes our bodies to create those same, specific, antibodies without having to become ill.
Yancopoulos explained in his interview that the process of stimulating the human body to create just exactly the right antibodies to fight a specific virus-like COVID-19 takes quite a bit of time. It appears from the interview that the treatment that Regeneron is trying to develop applies technology that allows them to produce the required antibodies outside the patient. Once administered the purified antibodies, he says it will be as if the patient were vaccinated ahead of time.
Yancopoulas claimed that the results of their tests involving Kevzara could be known as soon as a few weeks. The antibody treatment, if found to be effective, could be being administered to hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of people by the end of the summer, according to Yancopoulas.