A cure for COVID-19 may be found in on the First Coast.
Volunteers are asked to participate in a clinic study to test a possible vaccine for the deadly virus, according to Sharon Smith, Vice President of Recruitment for ENCORE Research Group. The company’s University Boulevard office in Jacksonville will embark on a year-long study for two different vaccines in the next couple weeks with hopes of identifying the antibody markers to beat the coronavirus.
The University office is staffed with 50 multi-specialty physician investigators from Northeast Florida.
“We know your body develops an antibody,” Smith said. “What we don’t know is how long does it last?”
Genetic markers extracted from mRNA will be added to proteins and injected into the subject, Smith said. “When the body fights the intrusive marker, researchers hope to identify the effectiveness of antibodies that can preventing viral replication in the lungs.
In short, the injection is intended to trick the body into fighting a virus that doesn’t exist, with hopes of the body creating antibody markers that can help prevent and cure the disease.
The biggest obstacle for researchers is convincing volunteers the injection won’t develop into COVID-19.
“Fear,” Smith said. “You can’t get COVID-19 from the injection. How can you get this technology [to defeat the disease] if you don’t participate in a trial?”
There’s a demand for more Black volunteers since they catch the disease at a disproportionate rate than other races. “And they are under-represented in clinical trials,” Smith said.
The study at the Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research is be part of the government’s second and third phase of study. There was considerable promise in a Phase 1 study for Moderna by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases revealed levels of binding antibodies significantly exceeded levels seen in recuperating sera in blood.
Smith said if the study proves the medicine provided at the University study has a less than 50% success rate, it won’t be recommended for use. There currently are 145 COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for research and development.
There won’t be a limit of volunteers needed for research. All subjects will be tested for COVID-19 ahead of the study and the government will compensate subjects for time and travel.
One of the vaccines also will be tested at ENCORE’s Fleming Island office.
For more information on the study, visit encoredocs.com or call the University
office at (904) 730-0101.