JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are conducting clinical trials with the same experimental drug used to treat President Donald Trump for COVID-19 days ago, meaning Mississippians could also get the chance to experience that same treatment.
The drug REGN-COV2, manufactured by Regeneron, is the focus of two different clinical trials at UMMC.
The drug uses synthetic antibodies intended to not only lessen the symptoms of COVID-19 but also reduce the viral load in the patient, which will theoretically make it easier to overcome the virus.
Dr. Richard Summers, associate vice chancellor for research at UMMC, said he’s proud that the experimental treatment given to the president could be available for residents who test positive for COVID-19, too, if they meet the criteria.
It also won’t cost anything once you’re approved for the study.
“Almost all of our clinical trials are covered by either industry or [National Institutes of Health] in terms of their support for writing these trials," Summers said. "The trials themselves usually need to go through their physician or our UMMC physician that helps to determine whether or not they meet the criteria for eligibility for those studies.”
The two studies utilizing the Regeneron drug are among twenty different COVID-19 clinical trials currently underway at the hospital, from studying how the disease itself behaves to how synthetic antibodies can curb the worst symptoms.
“When the pandemic began, we, as everyone else, knew that there was a lot of unknowns for regard to this virus. We didn’t know what would be effective. People were trying a multitude of different therapies and treatments to see if they could have an impact on the outcome,” Summers said.
Summers said they wanted to provide their clinicians with a broad spectrum of treatment options.
Now the state’s only academic research hospital offers a variety of clinical trials, including an immune monoclonal antibody study where 17 of the study’s 60 national participants come from UMMC.
“Not only were we the lead organization in that clinical trial, enrolling 17 patients, but we were also the core lab to investigate outcomes in terms of the blood test and the study,” Summers said. “So we really were the national lead in that study.”
Summers said he’s encouraged by the work of his fellow colleagues and believes it will eventually lead to effective measures for treating COVID-19 and its various complications.
“I think all these things will evolve over time, and we’ll get a better understanding but right now we’re very early in that process. And there’s still a lot of unknowns," Summers said.
If you would like to see whether you can participate in these studies, search the available trials for yourself by clicking here.