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New COVID-19 clinical trials at UW–Madison and UW Health will study antibody approach

July 14, 2020

In collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health will conduct three clinical trials to test a new treatment and preventative for COVID-19.

The trials center around an “antibody cocktail” called REGN-COV2, which was created by the New York-based pharmaceutical company. The experimental antibodies in the cocktail are isolated from mice that have been given human-like immune systems, and from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Regeneron selected UW Health as one of approximately 100 clinical trial sites in the U.S. Locally, the trials will be led by William Hartman, assistant professor of anesthesiology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and will involve between 30 and 50 study participants.

The treatment is expected to work by preventing the virus from docking with human cells during infection. The antibodies in the cocktail interact with a portion of the COVID-19 virus’s spike protein that binds to cells via human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or the ACE2 receptor.

“We are excited to be part of these antibody clinical trials,” says Betsy Nugent, director of clinical trials development and accreditation/chief clinical research officer at SMPH. “We must be cautious with our expectations, but we are aware of the importance of developing a potentially life-saving treatment and possibly preventative measure against this pandemic.”

William Hartman explains the three groups of patients that will be eligible for clinical trials beginning at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health.

To learn more about the new trials, visit

—Adapted from a news release by Emily Kumlien, UW Health