SAN ANTONIO – A new study released by researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Aridis Pharmaceuticals found that cells isolated in COVID-19 patients were effective in treating lab animals injected with the virus.
“If you think about it, it’s a key going around looking for the right lock and we’re able to block that key from ever finding a lock,” Texas Biomedical Research Institute Vice President Dr. Cory Hallam said. “In that way, the virus essentially will die, get absorbed and disappear out of the body.”
Researchers found that when the antibody was given to the animal through a nebulizer the virus was reduced significantly. Hallam said this is critical in finding treatments for COVID-19 patients.
“There’s obviously a therapeutic end to it, meaning if if folks are exhibiting characteristics associated with the disease, is there a potential therapy where if they take a dose of these, it will help reduce the effects that they’re suffering from,” Hallam said. “Then there’s a preventative side of it, which is in combination or alone, putting together a vaccine or prophylactic type treatment ahead of time to ward off the effects."
Hallam said researchers are ready to take this research to the next phase.
“The team working on this antibody thinks it has a high probability in their preclinical models of stopping the virus,” Hallam said. “And so the idea of moving this forward with a company, they’re better positioned now to move it towards the clinical stage and can move it into trials and move it forward.”
This research is different than ones being led by other pharmaceutical companies in that this research is testing things out in phases rather than simultaneously.
“As you’ve seen from the big announcements, even some that are in phase three clinical trials are having to halt due to side effects,” Hallam said. “You can see companies trying to do these things in parallel, the development work, the animal studies, the safety studies. You can make it all parallel, but you can’t predict. Is it going to change the outcome? The science is still the science.”
“They want to get it through confirmatory animal studies that verify that it does reduce the viral load on the animals, which essentially are the models that we’re using to estimate how would react in the human body.”
Overall, Hallam said the goal of all of the researchers working to find a treatment for COVID-19 and to help lives get back to normal.
“What we hope for is that we will see a fairly quick approval of one of the vaccines or therapeutics that’s currently in study to at least get us over that initial hurdle,” Hallam said. “What you’ll probably see after that are additional follow on modifications, more effective therapeutics or vaccines that might then move forward.”