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Regeneron antibody cocktail used in clinical trials to fight COVID-19 at UCHealth

'They found evidence that there was some potential benefit for people with COVID-19 illness.'

DENVER, Colorado — University of Colorado Hospital is conducting clinical trials on an experimental antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the same drug combo given to President Donald Trump under a “compassionate use” request.

Andrew Hageman and his mom, Graham Ray, were among the first to get a dose after contracting COVID-19.

“I think I got it from playing pick-up basketball around the neighborhood,” said Andrew Hageman, who gets some loving grief from his mother for bringing the virus home.

“Thanks to Andrew I was able to participate in a treatment trial!” laughed Ray who is a retired nurse who used to work on HIV treatment trials. She got them both enrolled in UCHealth’s Regeneron trial. “I have felt very strongly that it's our duty to help out when we can.”

Neither had severe symptoms. Both had a runny nose. Andrew had a short-lived fever. Both said they temporarily lost their sense of smell and taste. But both said they recovered quickly. But they still don't know if they got the actual antibody cocktail or a placebo. Though, their experience is in line with preliminary data just released from Regeneron.

“They found evidence that there was some potential benefit for people with COVID-19 illness, particularly for those people who had not yet developed their own natural antibody response,” said Dr. Thomas Campbell, an infectious-disease specialist who oversees the trial at UCHealth.

He explains the new data shows the lab-engineered antibodies may reduce how much of the virus one carries, known as viral load. It also may help alleviate COVID symptoms faster and hasn’t shown negative side-effects. But, this is data taken from just 275 participants and not yet ready for widespread use.

The Food and Drug Administration will likely require data from a much larger group of patients that shows very statistically significant improvements in people who got the actual drug versus the placebo.

Andrew and Graham hope those who can participate, will. And they hope that their small contribution, leads to major shifts in a pandemic.

“Regardless of whether or not we get a vaccine in the future, if people can survive COVID no matter what, through a treatment like Regeneron, then I can play a pick-up basketball game without getting any crap from my mom,” laughed Hageman.

Dr. Campbell said this data could also help in the development of a vaccine. The more researchers know about antibodies, the more they know about helping immune systems defend against the virus before it settles in.

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