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Iowan participates in COVID-19 Regeneron Antibody Therapy Trial

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 8:47 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Avera Health is currently undergoing trials of an experimental antibody therapy from the pharmaceutical company, Regeneron. You may remember, the drug was part of President Trump’s COVID-19 treatment during his time at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Trials like this are an important step in finding a treatment for COVID-19. And that can’t be done without people volunteering to take part in the studies.

Over 60 sites and thousands of people across the world are taking part in the trials.

“We’re just very, very pleased that Regeneron selected us as a site and we’re able to help bring our population into this important work,” said Amy Elliott, Avera Chief Clinical Research Officer.

Iowan Leslie Kallsen is one of the participants. She tested positive for COVID-19 on September 21st.

“Where I got tested is an Avera affiliate and they suggested, my doctor actually informed me of this study and said it would help other people,” said Kallsen.

She knew she had to do it.

“What I do for a living I work at a school with children and so like I always help children anyway. I really wanted to be able to help other people and help figure out maybe how we could either stop the spread or how we could use the medication to help the effects of it,” said Kallsen.

This particular trial uses lab-made antibodies that attach to the spikes of the COVID virus so that the virus can’t enter into the cell.

“The hypothesis then you see reduce in symptoms, less severity, and hopefully less real bad outcomes,” said Elliott.

Kallsen was given an infusion delivered by IV. Some are given the drug at different dosing levels, while others receive a placebo. As a participant, Kallsen doesn’t know which one she received.

The next several weeks she came in every other day for check-ups to see how the drug was affecting her.

“Everybody was very informative, they made sure my questions were asked and I felt comfortable during the whole time,” said Kallsen.

She says she never had any negative effects. The study lasted about a month and is a decision Kallsen is glad she made.

“It can be scary, but what I thought about is ‘What if I needed the help?’ Somebody else could use the help, so you have to be brave and think about others. If it was someone you knew who needed to be helped you’d want them helped,” said Kallsen.

She hopes to inspire others to take part in the trial.

For more information on the trial, you can call Avera Health at 605-504-3154

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