The virus doesn’t move, people move it. We stop moving, the virus stops moving, the virus dies. It’s that simple. ~Anonymous
As we continue to self-quarantine and sift through fake news coming out of the White House (too snarky?), dedicated scientists worldwide are ramping up their research on COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines.
Here I want you to forget the scary statistics and learn about the abundance of promising news on the battle against this pandemic.
In this issue, I cover good news on promising COVID-19 treatments, including 30 existing drugs, placental cell therapy, and antibodies from Llamas!
Researchers Use the Live Virus to Identify 30 Existing Drugs that Could Treat COVID-19
These researchers were one of the first to use live SARS-CoV-2 virus to identify 30 existing drugs that stop the replication of this virus that causes COVID-19.
Almost all of the drugs are entirely different from those currently being tested in clinical trials, and weren’t previously known to hold promise for COVID-19 treatment. The new candidates expand the number of “shots on goal” for a potential COVID-19 treatment and could reach patients faster than drugs that are created from scratch.
Good News: The results were released to the scientific and medical community now to help address the current global health emergency and should accelerate treatment options.
[O]ur hope is that one or more of these drugs will save lives while we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19. … Based on the extensive data in this study, we believe the four drugs described above — apilimod, MLN-3897, VBY-825 and ONO 5334 — represent the best new approaches for a near-term COVID-19 treatment … However, we believe that all 30 drug candidates should be fully explored, as they were clearly active and effective at halting viral replication in our tests.
Israeli COVID-19 Treatment Shows 100% Survival Rate
Pluristem’s PLX cells are “allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells that have immunomodulatory properties,” meaning they induce the immune system’s natural regulatory T cells and M2 macrophages … The result could be the reversal of dangerous overactivation of the immune system. This would likely reduce the fatal symptoms of pneumonia and pneumonitis (general inflammation of lung tissue).
Good News: PLX cell therapy has just been cleared by the US FDA for a Phase II study in the treatment of severe COVID-19 cases. PLX cells are available off-the-shelf and, once commercialized, can be manufactured in large scale quantities.
Other similar therapies are also under development: Stem cell therapy shows 83% survival of Coronavirus patients on ventilators.
Antibodies from Llamas Could Help in Fight Against COVID-19
Did you know that a century-old treatment used antibodies from the blood plasma of people who have recovered from infection to boost the immunity of newly infected patients and those at risk of contracting the disease? There are now several therapies being developed using antibodies to treat COVID-19, but who knew that those antibodies could come from Llamas?
The researchers linked two copies of a special kind of antibody produced by llamas to create a new antibody that binds tightly to a key protein on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This protein, called the spike protein, allows the virus to break into host cells.
Good News: These Llama-derived antibodies are one of the first known to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“Vaccines have to be given a month or two before infection to provide protection,” McLellan said. “With antibody therapies, you’re directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected. The antibodies could also be used to treat somebody who is already sick to lessen the severity of the disease.”
Research on several other antibody treatments are also underway:
- Doctors Are Cloning COVID Patients’ Antibodies For New Treatment
- Can blood serum from COVID-19 survivors save others?
It may take a year or more to develop and distribute a proven vaccine. The White House and even CDC do not seem to be implementing a national plan to test, trace contacts and reopen — until January 2021 at best.
For now, we are on our own to protect ourselves by wearing masks whenever we leave the house, washing hands, etc.
However, I’m optimistic that a treatment, probably an antibody treatment, will surface sooner than you might think. Stay safe and stop watching and reading so much bad news!
Dr. Rod Murray
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