Doctors at Stanford say COVID-19 drugs will still be needed in the future

ByTimothy Didion KGO logo
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Medical therapies are available for immuno-compromised people
Antibody drugs like Regeneron are being studied at Stanford Labs to benefit people most vulnerable to COVID-19.

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- As a clinical lab technician, Josipa Matusich is on the front lines of tracking the COVID-19 virus. But earlier this year, it was the virus that tracked her down. Eventually, Josipa fell ill along with more than half a dozen members of her family.

"After so many months of being careful and wearing masks, and doing social distance we actually got it, it was like- 'what are we gonna do now?'" Matusich said.

She says she felt extremely vulnerable herself because of a pre-existing condition effecting her immune system.

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"I've been on immunosuppressant therapy basically my whole life, the last 30 years," Matusich said.

Early on, doctors at Stanford began treating Matusich with Regeneron, the same monoclonal antibody drug given to former President Trump, who granted an emergency use authorization as a treatment by the FDA. Research continued into it's effectiveness for patients who might still be vulnerable, even with vaccinations available.

"There are people whose immune system isn't great, and maybe they're not responding well to the vaccine," said Dr. Upinder Singh, M.D. "And then there are people who have done all the right things, and maybe they're much older or they have sort of other underlying conditions."

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Dr. Singh is an infectious disease expert at Stanford, which was a trial site for Regeneron. The company recently announced that the anti-body cocktail proved more than 80% effective in reducing the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 in phase 3 trials.

They've asked the FDA to extend its use, as a preventative treatment for unvaccinated people, and potentially those with compromised immune systems who might not respond to vaccines.

RELATED: FDA authorizes Regeneron's antibody cocktail for COVID-19

"Absolutely go hand in hand, you want a vaccine that is effective and good; and we have multiple, that is awesome," said Dr. Singh. "You want a therapy for someone who is sick enough to go into the hospital, then you want a therapy for someone who is early in their disease."

As for patients like Josipa Matusch, it's also peace of mind.

"I think we're so blessed here that we have a treatment," Matusch said.

Doctors at Stanford have also led research into the use of monoclonal antibodies for use in treatment against several forms of cancer.

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