Cedars-Sinai Investigator Studies Monoclonal Antibody Eculizumab in Pregnant Women With COVID-19, Preeclampsia

Cedars-Sinai Investigator Studies Monoclonal Antibody Eculizumab in Pregnant Women With COVID-19, Preeclampsia

Since the beginning of the pandemic, physicians have searched for safe, effective treatment protocols for pregnant women with COVID-19. One drug—eculizumab—shows promise. Eculizumab targets the complement system and works by lowering immune-mediated inflammation and tissue damage, so the body can heal from illness and stop attacking its own healthy cells. “The complement system is your

Since the beginning of the pandemic, physicians have searched for safe, effective treatment protocols for pregnant women with COVID-19. One drug—eculizumab—shows promise. Eculizumab targets the complement system and works by lowering immune-mediated inflammation and tissue damage, so the body can heal from illness and stop attacking its own healthy cells.

“The complement system is your innate immune system,” says Burwick. “In a disease like COVID-19, you have no antibodies, and you rely on your innate immune system for immediate defense against foreign pathogens.”

In some cases of severe illness, Burwick says, the body’s innate immune system works too well.

“When a foreign pathogen is introduced—COVID-19 in this case—your complement system tags the virus as a foreign body and triggers your immune system to attack. But when the virus has replicated in large volume and spread deep into healthy tissue, your immune system can mistakenly begin to attack and damage healthy cells.”

Drugs like eculizumab block the membrane attack complex, the final complex formed in the complement system cascade, and prevent the body from causing additional injury to itself.

Eculizumab has been FDA-approved for more than 10 years to treat two rare blood disorders, and has yielded good safety data when used in pregnant and lactating women. It’s unique design limits transport across the placenta during pregnancy and it doesn’t get into breast milk, unlike many other monoclonal antibody therapies.

Encouraged by similar trials using complement blockades to treat COVID-19 patients, Burwick launched a small study that uses eculizumab to treat pregnant and lactating women with severe or critical forms of the illness. Initial data is encouraging.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/covid-19-pregnancy-research.html

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