Dr. Alberto Alape Girón, a researcher at the Clodomiro Picado Institute and a professor at the UCR, highlighted that the Institute has fifty years of experience in the purification and formulation of equine antibodies for therapeutic use in patients who have suffered poisonings from snake bites.
“These antivenoms are used clinically not only in Costa Rica, but also in several countries in Latin America and Africa. Antibody preparations produced in the ICP are safe and effective, as has been shown in several clinical trials carried out with patients who have suffered poisonings in Colombia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka, ”the scientist pointed out.
Alape explained that “the doses to be used in each case vary depending on the severity of the poisoning and have been established through controlled clinical trials. The side effects induced by equine antibodies that are reported are allergic-type reactions ”.
Referring to the equine anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody preparations made at the ICP and used in the ongoing clinical study, he said that “they showed a safety profile similar to that of antivenoms, since they were not reported to cause any severe side effects.” .
What now follows is to determine in a new clinical trial the optimal dose of equine antibodies to effectively treat patients in different stages of Covid19, Alape said.
The researcher mentioned that new strategies are currently being tested at the Institute to immunize horses with viral proteins, seeking to improve the response of their immune system and thus induce the production of a greater quantity of antibodies. In addition, equipment, materials and reagents are being acquired to optimize the performance of the antibody purification process in order to reduce production costs.
New collaborative opportunities
The executive president of the CCSS highlighted that this interventional study is “the first that the institution has carried out since the 1990s,” which represents an opportunity to carry out other collaborative studies with public and private entities.
Macaya stated that this collaborative study with the University of Costa Rica through the Clodomiro Picado Institute involves a specialized team from the CCSS, which “puts the institution in the world of research for evidence-based decision making.”
“The Fund has qualified human capital and other necessary resources to carry out this type of investigation in accordance with all ethical standards where safety and human life prevail,” said Macaya.