Donald Trump's experimental drugs tested in monkeys

16 Oct 2020 | Back to News, Publications and Annual Reports



You couldn't ignore it in recent weeks. US President Donald Trump was hospitalized for treatment of Covid-19. He received, among other things, a cocktail of antibodies that was labeled as promising in all media reports. Promising thanks to data from experiments with monkeys and golden hamsters.

Before experimental drugs can be tested in humans, they have come a long way. This also applies to the two antibodies present in the presidential cocktail. The antibodies had been found in recovering COVID-19 patients and subsequently artificially produced in mice. The researchers then showed in culture dishes that the antibodies indeed bound to the virus and prevented virus particles from infecting new cells.

Studies with monkeys and golden hamsters

The next step was to investigate whether this is also effective inside the body. This requires laboratory animals that are susceptible to the virus. The researchers opted for two different animal models. Golden hamsters and monkeys. Golden hamsters become seriously ill after infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19. The virus causes a lot of weight loss in these animals and damages the lungs. Rhesus monkeys were used because they show only mild symptoms and are therefore comparable to people who show mild covid-19 symptoms.

Promising drug against covid-19

The results were promising in both golden hamsters and rhesus monkeys. In animals receiving the antibody cocktail, less virus was found in the airways and the symptoms were milder.

The entire research was published in the journal Science and is freely accessible.