Temple begins clinical trial of novel immunotherapy for patients with COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As COVID-19 cases rise, medical experts are quickly working on new treatments to improve the outcomes for patients, including a new clinical trial happening right now at Temple University Hospital.

Temple has just treated the first six patients in the United States as part of a clinical trial that uses immunotherapy to treat COVID-19.

It basically uses your body's own defenses to fight against the virus.

"It's like activating or revving up your own immune cells, your own immune system," says Dr. Gerald Criner, the chair and professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the director of the Temple Lung Center.

"It's an example of what's called 'adaptive immunity.' It's stimulating your own body's response," Criner adds.

Dr. Criner says they are trying this immunotherapy on milder cases of COVID-19, with the goal of preventing the virus from getting worse.

He compares it, in a way, to convalescent plasma treatment. In this case, the patient creates their own antibodies.

"It actually activates your own cells to make those antibodies rather than giving you passive cells or antibodies from another individual," Dr. Criner says. "Hopefully, we'll get an answer within the next two months because you have to wait 30 days and then look at the data."

They've already treated six patients in the first four days. Their goal is to enroll up to 30 people in this first phase.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.