At the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the first corona patients have recently been treated with special antibodies. They do not produce enough antibodies on their own, for example, because they use the immunosuppressive medication after a transplant. The hospital itself calls this a breakthrough.
The drug, called REGEN-Cov, consists of basiliximab and imdevimab. These are two monoclonal antibodies that reduce the ability of the coronavirus to enter the human cell. “It buys, so to speak, time for patients to make their own antibodies. In patients who will never make antibodies, it helps the body’s other immune systems in their fight against the virus,” says internist-infectiologist Bart Rijnders of Erasmus MC, who applied the treatment.
The monoclonal antibodies were manufactured in the laboratory but were discovered in the blood plasma of a patient who had had covid-19. These potent antibodies are given to patients who do not produce antibodies on their own when they arrive at the hospital. This happens to one in three people. “Sometimes these are previously healthy patients. But most often we see it in patients using immunosuppressive drugs, such as after organ or stem cell transplantation or during blood cancer treatment.” Some people don’t produce antibodies even after full vaccination. “So they can still get very sick when they encounter the virus,” Rijnders says.
The new therapy is not yet fully registered, but its use has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).