A clinical trial underway at Temple University Hospital is the first in the United States to use an immunotherapy technique to treat patients suffering from COVID-19, building on knowledge used in a growing field of cancer treatments.
Immunotherapy works by artificially stimulating the body's immune response, training the immune system to attack targeted cells. Administration of specially designed antibodies builds memory in the body's defenses to identify the antigens that mark disease.
The Phase 1 clinical trial at Temple, a collaboration with Corvus Pharmaceuticals, is investigating a novel immunotherapy approach for patients with COVID-19, called CPI-006.
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"COVID-19 has had such a profound impact on the lives of patients around the globe," said Dr. Gerard J. Criner, director of the Temple Lung Center. "It’s crucial that new treatments are identified that can improve outcomes for these patients. We’re pleased to be participating in a variety of clinical trials investigating potential treatments for patients with COVID-19."
CPI-006 is described as an immunostimulatory, humanized, monoclonal antibody. In cancer patients, CPI-006 has demonstrated binding to various immune cells and inducing an immune response that produces antigen-specific immunoglobulin antibodies.
Administration of the treatment has also demonstrated increased levels of memory B cells, which are the cells responsible for long-term immunity.
Researchers believe that similar production of antibodies and memory cells can be achieved for pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
It is hoped that immunotherapy can provide immediate and longterm benefits for COVID-19 patients, including shortened recovery time and improved longterm protective immunity.
Five patients at Temple University Hospital are currently undergoing immunotherapy treatment. The Phase 1 trial is expected to enroll up to 30 COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms at several sites in the U.S.
During the trial, participating patients will receive medications, therapies and interventions per standard treatment protocols for COVID-19 in addition to immunotherapy.
The goal of the study is to show that CPI-006 has the potential to induce COVID-19 patients to produce an enhanced antibody response to SARS-CoV-2. If the study meets its objectives, Corvus will work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to initiate a broader, randomized study that can help build the case for a regulatory submission for FDA approval.