Antibody treatments are safe and effective for transplant patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, a new study shows.
Monoclonal antibodies help prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from attaching to cells, which helps block the spread of infection.
The findings are important, researchers said, because transplant patients with COVID are more likely to be severely ill or die.
"Monoclonal antibody therapy is really important for the transplant population because they are less likely to develop their own immunity," said senior author Dr. Raymund Razonable, an infectious diseases specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "Providing them with these antibodies helps them recover from COVID-19."
The study included the first 73 solid organ transplant patients at the Mayo Clinic who received monoclonal antibody infusions for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19.
Eleven patients had an emergency department visit and nine were hospitalized. None required mechanical ventilation, died or developed organ rejection, according to findings published June 10 in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
"While we expected monoclonal antibody therapy would be beneficial for patients, we were pleasantly surprised by the results," Razonable said in a Mayo news release. "Only one patient required care in the ICU for non-COVID-19 indication, and, most importantly, there were no deaths."
Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the monoclonal antibody therapies bamlanivimab and casirivimab-imdevimab to treat mild to moderate COVID in patients at high risk for serious illness.
But many health care institutions hesitated to use them because their safety and effectiveness for transplant patients was unknown due to limited clinical data, Razonable said.
"It is important that these patients have early access to monoclonal antibody treatment," Razonable said. "Our data show the outcomes for patients are better if they get infused earlier."
The American Society of Transplantation has more on COVID-19.