CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Innovative Research of West Florida is recruiting participants for a clinical trial of a potential antibody-based treatment for the coronavirus.

What You Need To Know

  • Innovative Research of West Florida recruiting volunteers for trial

  • Treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals uses antibody cocktail to attack virus

  • Trial aims to determine if treatment can prevent infection or result in less severe cases of illness

"We are targeting people who are in the same household as people who test positive for COVID-19," said Dr. Miguel Trevino, medical director for Innovative Research.

The treatment being tested was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. It's a cocktail of laboratory-manufactured antibodies.

"It's two antibodies that attack different portions of the COVID-19 virus, and the reason why they did two is they want to ensure that the virus doesn't have the ability to change and make this ineffective," Trevino explained.

"Viruses change all the time, as we know with other viruses, like the flu. So, when exposed to antibodies, they adapt and mutate and try to figure out a way to survive."

Trevino said the trial aims to determine if the treatment can prevent infection in those living with someone who's COVID-positive or if it results in less serious illness.

Innovative Research is just one of the sites nationwide working to recruit a total of 2,000 participants. According to Regeneron, the Phase 3 trial is being conducted jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. Tracey Osborn, Innovative Research's research director, said the trial just got up and running at the Clearwater facility this week, and no volunteers have been recruited so far.

Trevino said about 50 people are taking part nationwide.

One of the challenges: potential participants must connect with researchers within 96 hours of a COVID-positive member of their household getting tested.

"It's extremely challenging," Osborn said. "Everybody is aware, probably, in Pinellas County, as well as across the country, that a swab test takes a very long period of time now."

Osborn said those who do take part in the trial will remain at the office for a period of time to be monitored from a medical standpoint. She said side effects seen so far have included a localized reaction at the injection site and a chance of allergic reaction. 

Even if the trial doesn't result in the treatment's approval, Osborn and Trevino said it can still help researchers learn more about how to fight the coronavirus. If it’s successful, Trevino said that would be a significant development.

"It would be huge because we don't have a vaccine," he said. "So, this is being looked at as, 'Can we do treat this virus before we get the vaccine?'"

Trevino said the treatment could be available by early next year if it is approved.

Anyone interested in learning more about taking part in the trial at the Innovative Research site can call (727) 584-6368.