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Health

NIH starts clinical trial testing antibody treatments in COVID-19 patients

FILE PHOTO: As the national death toll from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) nears 100,000, a cyclist passes a discarded face mask in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, U.S., May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on Tuesday it has started a study to evaluate two antibody treatments in COVID-19 patients as part of the agency’s program to identify promising drugs to help tackle the new coronavirus.

The trial will test AbbVie Inc’s psoriasis drug risankizumab along with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral remdesivir, compared to a placebo and remdesivir.

The study will also test Humanigen's experimental drug lenzilumab with remdesivir, compared to placebo and remdesivir. (bit.ly/3lKi1km)

“The goal here is to identify as quickly as possible the experimental therapeutics that demonstrate the most clinical promise as COVID-19 treatments and move them into larger-scale testing,” said NIAID Director and U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci.

Gilead’s remdesivir, which was among the first to be used to treat COVID-19 and received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May, has since been authorized for use in several other countries.

Risankizumab and lenzilumab belong to a class of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies that are laboratory-made versions of proteins naturally produced by the immune system in response to invading viruses or other pathogens.

The treatment has come under the spotlight after U.S. President Donald Trump was treated with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ antibody drug earlier this month.

Regeneron and Eli Lilly have both applied to the U.S. FDA for emergency use of their antibody treatments.

Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; editing by Ankur Banerjee and Ramakrishnan M.

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