Avera Medical Minute: Avera part of international COVID-19 antibody study, looking for participants

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:38 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Avera infectious disease specialist Dr. Jawad Nasir is continuing his quest for solutions during the pandemic. A new study taking place here in Sioux Falls could help find answers.

“If you target the virus very early, we have better chances to decrease the progression of the disease,” said Dr. Nasir.

For those participating in the study, a lab-created antibody cocktail can be administered by a one-time IV infusion. IV therapy could be used for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 who are currently hospitalized or at home.

The entire process, including monitoring after the infusion, takes about two hours.

Dr. Amy Elliott, Avera’s Chief Clinical Research Officer, explains how antibodies protect from a virus.

“When you think about the picture of the COVID virus right there’s little spikes that exist on it. And so what this antibody does is it connects with those spikes. And then blocks that receptor from entering the cell, and then infecting that cell,” said Dr. Elliott.

For those who have not COVID symptoms but have been in close contact with someone positive, the antibodies could be injected.

Avera Chief Medical Officer for Research Dr. John Lee says the study benefits researchers and patients as well.

“It’s more than just waiting for the virus to take its course. There is a component of this, you have to come in for the study requirements, and we appreciate their help because it’s really about, you know, helping them,” said Dr. Lee.

If you’re 18 or older and meet the criteria, you could qualify to receive the antibodies. Researchers keep in touch for a month, checking on symptoms and administering coronavirus tests.

“From around the world - we’re the only in our region that is doing this particular study, so it’s nice knowing that you’re part of a global effort that’s helping them help find some solutions to help those that are sick, but also on the prevention side,” said Elliott.

“Everyone has come forward together in a very short frame of time to set this study up and going. So I think this is really impressive,” said Nasir.

Participants will be in one of three categories: COVID-19 positive and in the hospital, COVID-19 positive at home, and exposed but not having any symptoms.

“Maybe we can start to answer the question why is it some people are affected so severely and others not as much,” said Elliott.

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