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Clinical antibody provides reason for us to have hope

We are heartened to learn about the world-class science in our own backyard that is closing in on a clinical antibody that may prevent COVID-19 from attacking the body and also be capable of destroying the virus without side effects.

UPMC Susquehanna officials shared their thoughts this week on UPMC’s discovery of the Ab8 monoclonal antibody.

Steve Johnson, president of UPMC Susquehanna, said human trials will allow health professionals to learn about dosages, different types of administration of the antibody and how it may be commercialized.

The process of developing a new treatment, from the scientific work bench to the effective delivery to patients, normally takes 17 years. Not so with this one. Hopes are to start human clinical trials by the end of this year and get a treatment to patients on a much shorter timeline, according to Johnson.

“The UPMC model allows us to move the science to the patient bed in considerably shorter times,” he said.

This piece of positive news comes at a time when nationally more than 200,000 people have died from the coronavirus. This new Ab8 antibody has the potential to save many lives, and we pray for continued success in its development, testing and deployment.

Once it’s ready, decisions on who gets it first will need to be in place. It is vital that any treatment be shared with the public in an efficient and effective manner and that first access goes to the most vulnerable, whether that be persons with pre-existing conditions or staff in nursing homes and medical facilities. That will be for officials to work out, but a plan needs to be developed and put in place now.

The good news for our region is our proximity to this development.

“There are hospitals that have been serving communities for over 140 years and immediate availability of world-class science,” Johnson said. “It is a huge benefit to the citizens in our region.”

That gives us all reason for hope during what has been a very challenging year.

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