NIH Funds Clinical Trial For New COVID-19 Antibody Therapy

April 19, 2021

The NIH is funding a Phase 2 clinical trial testing a monoclonal antibody for COVID-19 patients hospitalized with respiratory disease and low blood oxygen count. The FDA has previously issued emergency use authorization for COVID-19 antibody therapies by Eli Lilly and Regeneron

This new IC14 monoclonal antibody “binds to a human protein, CD14, that is found on the surface of immune cells circulating in the blood and airway fluid… CD14 helps immune cells recognize pathogens and injured or dying cells, alerting the immune system to danger and prompting it to respond” (1). 

CD14 may be one factor that induces a “cytokine storm.” Cytokines play an influential role in the immune response to a viral infection. Moreover, a cytokine storm provokes a severe immune reaction, and in COVID-19 patients, often causes “dangerous levels” of inflammation and tissue damage in the lungs, which can result in acute respiratory distress syndrome and failure (1). Blocking CD14 proteins using the IC14 antibody may decrease the immune system’s hyper response to a COVID-19 infection. To read more about cytokines and the overlap between a COVID-19 infection and autoimmune disease, check out our featured article. 
Researchers hope to determine whether the IC14 antibody decreases in-hospital recovery time for patients with COVID-19-induced respiratory disease, as well as its severity.