UPMC and Pitt provide first results of largest trial of COVID-19 antibody treatment

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PITTSBURGH — According to a clinical trial by UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, monoclonal antibodies, an outpatient treatment that must be given soon after COVID-19 diagnosis, significantly decrease hospitalization and death from the disease.

Real-world data from UPMC patients now show that two antibody combination treatments — bamlanivimab-etesevimab and casirivimab-imdevimab — were safe and appeared to be equally effective. These interim results come from UPMC’s innovative OPTIMISE-C19 study, a randomized, adaptive trial designed to simultaneously expand access to monoclonal antibodies and compare the effectiveness of different treatments for outpatients with COVID-19.

The next phase of the trial, which already is in progress, will evaluate how well the currently authorized treatments work against coronavirus variants, including delta, to prevent hospitalization and death. UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine physician-scientists published the findings in medRxiv, a preprint journal, and announced the results on Wednesday, ahead of peer-reviewed publication.

“Before we launched OPTIMISE-C19, only a small percentage of eligible patients were receiving monoclonal antibody treatment,” said lead author Erin McCreary, Pharm.D., UPMC infectious diseases pharmacist and Pitt clinical assistant professor of medicine. “Now, we’re able to offer monoclonal antibodies in the context of a clinical trial at every single one of our available treatment sites — resulting in a seven-and-a-half-fold increase in the number of eligible patients receiving this treatment. That level of outreach and access is virtually unprecedented, allowing us to build a foundation to roll-out future treatments quickly and safely within our learning health system.”

Monoclonal antibodies are potent versions of the natural defense that our bodies build to fight off an infection. By giving monoclonal antibodies to newly infected people, they can immediately start neutralizing and eliminating the virus, preventing it from infecting cells and causing damage. 

Previous research by UPMC and others found that monoclonal antibodies significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death when given soon after infection. 

“The whole world is in a race to tame the virus that causes COVID-19,” said study co-author Derek Angus, M.D., M.P.H., UPMC’s chief innovation officer and distinguished professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine. “If we get COVID-19, monoclonal antibodies are currently our best bet to keep ourselves and our loved ones alive and out of the hospital.”

Delta is now the predominant strain of COVID-19 in the communities UPMC serves. UPMC offers monoclonal antibodies to people who have tested positive for COVID-19, have had symptoms for 10 days or less and meet other FDA eligibility criteria.

Certain people who have been exposed to COVID-19 can also receive monoclonal antibodies as a preventive treatment, to keep them from contracting the virus. More information can be found at HERE or by calling 866-804-5251.

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