UC Davis doctors testing experimental drug used to treat President Trump

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — An experimental drug that doctors have used to treat President Donald Trump is undergoing clinical trials right here in Sacramento.

Shortly after the president tested positive for COVID-19, his doctor says they gave him an 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail, an experimental drug well-known to doctors at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Dr. Timothy Albertson, who is leading the trial, told FOX40 that in the drug two synthetic antibodies are programmed to attack specific parts of the virus.

“The analogy I’ve used is the monoclonal antibody is like a Pacman that can only eat one thing,” Albertson explained.

One of the antibodies targets the spike protein to prevent it from entering a human cell.

“The combination of these two are thought to not only prevent replication but also to kill the virus potentially,” Albertson said.

In Albertson’s trial, they are only using the drug on patients sick enough to be in the hospital but not yet needing intensive care.

Other hospitals are testing it as a preventative measure for people who have been exposed to the virus.

“I don’t know if the drug works or not. I think there’s a good chance it has a positive effect. That’s why we’re doing the clinical trial,” Albertson said.

The doctor said the only way to know whether the treatment is effective is through these scientific studies, stressing that the president’s health outcome will not tell them whether the drug works or not.

“He got the drug and you don’t know whether he would have gotten better alone or not. Clinical trials create equipoise between the control group and the treated group. When you’re taking care of a VIP, sometimes you reach for things that would not be standard of care,” Albertson explained.

He said they have struggled to find patients who want to take part in the trial and hopes this heightened awareness of the drug will help them recruit more participants.

“You need to have this outcome data to justify and prove that what you’re doing is correct,” Albertson said.

Not everyone qualifies for the trial, but doctors at the medical center will give patients the option if they do.

The trial at UC Davis started in July. They do not yet have any results ready to share.

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