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Covid patient 'better' after monoclonal antibodies used on Trump

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
image copyrightCardiff and Vale health board
image captionMelanie James took part in the trial after her health deteriorated very quickly

A woman has become the first person in Wales to have the same experimental antibody treatment for coronavirus as US President Donald Trump.

Melanie James, from Cardiff, received a transfusion of monoclonal antibodies at University Hospital Llandough as part of the Recovery clinical trial.

Ms James was breathless and receiving oxygen but said she felt "much better" after receiving the treatment.

Cardiff and Vale health board said the trial was in its "very early stages".

The transfusion of monoclonal antibodies is the latest treatment to be added to the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (Recovery) clinical trial, the world's largest randomised controlled clinical trial.

The new arm of the trial aims to determine the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies in preventing Covid-19 from entering the cells of patients infected with the virus, and preventing patients from becoming more severely unwell.

Ms James said she was "never in any doubt" about taking part in the trial after her health "deteriorated very quickly".

How do monoclonal antibodies work?

media captionThe BBC's Rebecca Morelle explains how the monoclonal antibodies work

Antibodies could be described as the "warriors" of the immune system.

When coronavirus infects your body, antibodies attach to the spikes of the virus, blocking it from entering your cells.

But we produce many different types of antibodies - the most potent are called neutralising antibodies.

So scientists "sieve" through them to find the one that's best at sticking to the spike.

The chosen antibody is multiplied in the lab, and produced in huge quantities.

This is then given to patients, immediately boosting their immune response.

"I started to feel better the day after the transfusion, and only had a small amount of oxygen during that night," Ms James explained.

"Although I'm still recovering, I already feel much better than I did a week ago."

She added: "I can't speak highly enough of the treatment and care that I received from everybody involved, from clinical staff to the cleaners and those who offered me a drink."

image copyrightCardiff and Vale health board
image captionResearch team lead Zoe Hilton, pictured left alongside research nurse Jennie Williams (centre) and pharmacist Manon Richards

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which became the first in the UK to take part in Recovery in March, has recruited more than 210 people to the trial.

In June, the trial found Dexamethasone to be the first drug proven to improve survival of Covid-19.

"We are delighted that Melanie is feeling better, and wish her all the best with her ongoing recovery at home, however it is important to acknowledge that this arm of the trial remains in its very early stages and the widespread effectiveness of this treatment isn't yet known," said Zoe Hilton, the health board's research team lead.

The University of Oxford's Prof Martin Landray, who is co-leading the Recovery trial, told the BBC earlier this month the monoclonal antibody treatment offered to President Trump was based on "established technology, used previously to develop similar sorts of drugs against Ebola".

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  • Coronavirus: How do monoclonal antibodies work?