Coronavirus Update: Uganda to begin monoclonal antibodies trial


Kampala, Uganda | AFRICATEMBELEA | Ugandan scientists are planning to start a laboratory manufacturing of targeted antibodies that can kill SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Dr Bruce Kirenga, a researcher and executive director at the Makerere University Lung Institute told URN in an interview that they have already been approached by two pharmaceutical companies offering them manufactured antibodies to use while conducting trials.

He says the manufacturing will start at the end of the randomized trial they are currently conducting to establish the efficacy of using convalescent plasma from recovered patients to treat hospitalized cases.

Kirenga explains that antibodies that they are already collecting in the blood plasma trial are infection-fighting proteins made by the immune system that can bind to the surface of viruses and prevent them from infecting cells. In the laboratory, he says they are able to reproduce synthetic versions of these antibodies which are referred to as monoclonal antibodies.

Kirenga says Uganda is lagging as many countries have already explored possibilities of having this treatment added to their plans and clinical trials have already started. For instance, last month, the US-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a trial to test the effectiveness of using monoclonal antibodies to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Also, a number of pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca that is involved in vaccine research have embarked on antibody trials in humans. Referred to as an “almost a sure bet” against COVID-19, by the United States infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, monoclonal antibodies have already been endorsed by leading scientists.

While the effectiveness of antibodies in treatment has not yet been confirmed anywhere in the world, Kirenga says scientists around the world are trying to come up with as many solutions as possible for treatment as they await an effective vaccine.


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