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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Scientific challenges await scientists trying to test new drugs and treatments in animals

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Deborah Tobias, president of the Organization for Rare Disorders, told me that as of this week, no tests have been given to patients who participated in the test run of experimental compounds that used powerful antibodies made from the saliva of rabbits. Those are just small steps in a long effort to test the safety of these experimental therapies and find out if they might actually be effective and/or useful.

Testing the safety of these kinds of early treatments involves huge quantities of fluids, and the dosage has to be enough to look for signs of side effects but not so much that it would lead to fever or pain or, frankly, any kind of reaction at all.

Since it is one of the first studies to look at a handful of antibodies in this way, the data must be carefully curated. The one patient who volunteered for the test had never had problems with AIDS or any related infection, but it is hard to know exactly what might have made her react to the antibody.

What the sequencing of the data at this point tells us is that the antibodies might not work, or might not do much good. This might be good news, because no results should mean the test is clearly ineffective.

But things could turn out to be worse, in which case, the study researchers have to make do with what they have.

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