Roper St. Francis Hospital becomes testing ground for new potential COVID-19 treatments

VIDEO: Roper St. Francis Hospital becomes testing ground for new potential COVID-19 treatments

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Lowcountry hospital was selected to be among ten sites across the country to test a new and promising coronavirus treatment.

Roper St. Francis Hospital experimented with an antibody therapy called CERC-002 that has shown positive impacts for patients who are hospitalized with complications caused by COVID-19.

CERC is a LIGHT-neutralizing antibody therapy that directs a patient’s immune system to respond to the infection in a way that reduces further inflammation.

In this case, LIGHT does not refer to the illumination produced from electricity, but instead, it is an acronym for immune responses in the lung, gut and skin. The neutralizing effects of CERC seem to regulate and play a key role in the immune response to COVID-19 complications like pneumonia and other respiratory issues, according to a press release published on Jan. 5.

“It helps coordinate your offense,” Roper St. Francis Healthcare Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Kent Stock said. “If we can knock it out, we limit the immune response to some degree to the presence of this virus, reduce inflammation and therefore allow people to recover from the respiratory disease more readily, more quickly, and they don’t end up on a ventilator and ultimately dying.”

The company behind the therapy, Cerecor, plans to meet with the Food and Drug Administration to move forward with CERC-002 as a potential treatment option for COVID-19 hospitalized patients, according to a press release published on Jan. 5.

Stock said clinical trials are essential to beating the coronavirus, and he hopes Roper can help find a COVID-19 treatment that works.

“We also feel compelled to, what I would borrow from Dr. Charles Mayo who founded the Mayo clinic, not only to provide quality care but to further the science,” Stock said.

Roper has already completed four different clinical trials for COVID-19. The healthcare system is currently enrolled in another, and it has been approved for three more.

Roper has also become a regional referral hub for other hospitals who don’t have access to experimental treatments for COVID patients.

“We’ve actually had at least six patients from Beaufort Memorial Hospital transferred to Roper-proper for consideration for enrollment in our clinical trials. Same thing with Colleton Medical Center,” Stock said. “A lot of these satellite hospitals whose patients aren’t getting better on standard of care are now reaching out to me.”

Roper has had at least eight to ten patients transferred in from outside hospitals, according to Stock.

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