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Seattle nonprofit to start immunotherapy trials for coronavirus

The Infectious Disease Research Institute has received funding to begin clinical trials for immunotherapy to combat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19.

SEATTLE — A Seattle nonprofit says it's ready to launch a clinical trial for people already infected by the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Corey Casper, CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute, said the nonprofit has received funding to begin clinical trials for immunotherapy to combat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19.

Casper explained the treatment would "essentially be a way of giving patients the immune cells that are critical in fighting this infection." 

Casper is also a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington and also worked at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.

He said the targeted therapy is similar to a type that has been used on Leukemia and Myeloma patients.

It's different from vaccines that are being tested, which could be 18-24 months away from government approval. 

RELATED: Coronavirus vaccine trial starts in Seattle

Casper said he's hopeful that the immunotherapy could be introduced to the market much earlier pending success in the clinical trial stage. 

He also said based on his previous research and development, he is likely more optimistic than other medical experts on the spread of the virus.

"We're seeing already the effect of the social distancing," he explained to KING 5, saying he sees encouraging data points.

However, he said that doesn't mean he's not full speed ahead on the development of the trial, and any protective measures. 

The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) will "enroll approximately 100 patients diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection causing a moderate to severe pneumonia. Participants will be provided with infusions of Celularity’s...product, which is based on a critical immune cell known as a 'natural killer' (NK) cell."

The funding for the trial is coming from New Jersey-based Celularity.

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