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Mayo, U studying Trump’s experimental treatment for COVID-19

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The experimental antibody treatment that President Donald Trump received for COVID-19 is the subject of an ongoing clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic and a soon-to-be launched University of Minnesota study.

Doctors say the “cocktail” of monoclonal antibodies ordered by Trump’s doctors is one of the more promising options under development in the race to find treatments for the new disease, which claimed 69 lives in Minnesota last week — the highest weekly toll since June.

Research at Mayo already is underway evaluating the antibody treatment in hospitalized patients. This fall, the U expects to enroll patients in a study looking at whether the antibodies can prevent infection and illness in household contacts of people who have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“I think there’s reason for optimism that this approach might be effective,” said Dr. Andrew Badley, chairman of the Mayo Clinic COVID Research Task Force. “The catch is, we don’t yet know well what the efficacy is; we don’t yet know well what the safety is.”

Studies of the treatment, which are being conducted at more than 100 medical centers, also will help show which patients might benefit most from monoclonal antibodies, said Dr. Brad Benson, chief academic officer at M Health Fairview. The treatment is intriguing and hopeful, he said, but there have been problems in the past with patients accessing other similar therapies due to cost and technology challenges.

“When I think of the price tag on most immunotherapies or monoclonal antibody therapies, they are steep,” said Benson, who is a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “Our goal would be that everyone has access to the science and the therapies that our president would have.”

The Minnesota Department of Health reported Saturday another 14 deaths from COVID-19,