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Health expert explains Regeneron therapy President Trump credits for his recovery

ABC10's health expert explained how the therapy works and why the public should proceed with caution.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — President Trump came out publicly Wednesday, crediting his quick recovery to an antibody treatment made by the company Regeneron. Just hours later, the company applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization for the treatment.

“I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president,” said Trump in a recorded message. “Because I feel great. I feel, like, perfect.”

He went on to mention the company by name.

“They gave me Regeneron and it was like, unbelievable,” said Trump. “I felt good immediately. I felt as good three days ago as I do now.”

ABC10 health expert Dr. Payal Kohli explained the Regeneron therapy.

“Regeneron is a combination of two different monoclonal antibodies, one coming from somebody who has recovered and one that’s humanized and manufactured in mice,” said Dr. Kohli. “This is giving somebody neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, which are actually antibodies or proteins that bind to the spike protein on the virus and neutralize it so that it can’t enter the host cell and take over the host cell and can’t replicate itself.”

Dr. Kohli said she understands the desire to get the public relief during the pandemic but it has to be weighed against the risks.

“One of the biggest challenges in this pandemic is really balancing the need for speed and trying to get things out quickly to the public against the scientific process, which usually takes several weeks, months, if not years,” admitted Dr. Kohli. “And in some cases, we do want to take some shortcuts because we’re going to save more lives by doing so by getting therapies out there quickly. But taking too many short cuts is really dangerous.

She says the Regeneron monoclonal antibody therapy is only in the early stages of clinical trials.

“So it makes me nervous the president is wanting to fast track this for emergency use authorization, much in the same way as we did with hydroxychloroquine,” said Dr. Kohli. “And then we had to backtrack and revoke that emergency use authorization.”

Benchmark Research in Sacramento is currently recruiting participants as it conducts clinical trials to test Regeneron’s antibody therapy. Benchmark’s principal investigator, Dr. Rusty Oshita, says early findings have been hopeful.

“Patients that have received the Regeneron therapy, they’ve had a decrease of the viral load,” explained Dr. Oshita. “So potentially decreasing infectivity, potentially decreasing the length of time for which somebody could spread disease, but we’ve also seen patients have a decrease of symptoms.”

He also explained how the therapy is administered.

“Right now, the Regeneron study uses two dosing regimens,” said Dr. Oshita. “And thus far, the safety profile for both of those regimens has shown to be very very good.”

Dr. Kohli offered a possible reason for why President Trump might be feeling on top of the world. She said the other treatments the president received also have to be considered, especially the steroid dexamethasone.

“Dexamethasone is a very powerful therapy,” said Dr. Kohli. “It is a strong immunosuppressant that cannot just suppress the symptoms, and the fevers and the shortness of breath and the body’s immune response. But it can also give what we call a ‘steroid high,’ where it can make people feel better. It can make them feel like they’re 20 years younger, and it can obviously give a lot of energy.”

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