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UNC’s Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases Director Myron Cohen, MD, is the lead investigator of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that shows bamlanivimab monotherapy reduced the incidence of infection in skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities with high risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure.

The randomized phase 3 clinical trial included 966 residents and staff participants from US nursing and assisted living facilities with at least one confirmed SARS-CoV-2 case. Participants were enrolled during August – November 2020, and were negative at baseline for SARS-CoV-2 infection and serology. Among those treated with bamlanivimab versus placebo, the results showed the incidence of COVID-19 infection was 8.5% versus 15.2%, respectively. This was an 80% reduction in SAES-CoV-2 acquisition ascribed to passive immunity provide by bamlanivimab.

myron cohen headshot
Myron Cohen, MD

Cohen, the Yeargan-Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and Epidemiology, pointed out differences in participants.

“All participants who received bamlanivimab and acquired SARS-CoV-2 had lower baseline viral loads. They also cleared the virus more quickly than the placebo group.”

Researchers emphasize the need for drugs that can provide prevention from COVID-19 faster than a vaccine in the most vulnerable populations. Reliable, safe, effective COVID-19 treatment for early infection is urgently needed.

Bamlanivimab is a neutralizing monoclonal antibody against SARS-CoV-2. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens and viruses.

But SARS-CoV-2 has mutated quickly, resulting in genetic variation in the population of circulating viral strains (variants of concern) worldwide. Newer mAbs and mAb combinations more reliable in vitro against SARS-CoV-2 variants have replaced bamlanivimab, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration withdrew from emergency use authorization in April 2021.  The JAMA report is considered a critical proof of concept.

Learn more about the bamlanivimab study. Find also a discussion of current outpatient treatments to prevent COVID-19, published by Cohen and other UNC faculty in Clinical Infectious Diseases.


Reposted from UNC Department of Medicine news site