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South Florida Physician Seeks COVID-19 Long-Haulers For Study On Monoclonal Antibody Drug


A rheumatologist in Aventura needs volunteers for a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study on a drug that might be a candidate to treat COVID-19 long-hauler syndrome, if it gets approved down the line.

The long-hauler syndrome is "thought to be a result of a post-reactive inflammatory response to the COVID that affects the immune system—which creates many different symptoms in the patient," said Dr. Norman Gaylis, who's conducting the study.

Gaylis said he constantly sees patients with these symptoms—which may persist for months—even after testing negative for the virus. They experience fatigue, headaches, joint pain, brain fog, shortness of breath or skin rashes that won’t go away.

"People shouldn’t feel like they need to just live with it," Gaylis said. "That’s been unfortunately a frustration—that nobody really knows or does anything to help many of these patients. So getting them to come and be evaluated, and then if they’re candidates for the study, great."

When someone develops COVID-19, the body launches an immune response and tries to protect itself. But there's an exaggerated inflammatory reaction that can make a person much sicker. The drug Gaylis is studying, Vyrologix, is a monoclonal antibody researchers hope will be able to block that reaction. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that function like human antibodies in our immune system.

The unpaid study is slated to begin in February, pending an official approval by the Food and Drug Administration and an institutional review board. Participants must have proof of a positive test in the past and experience long-hauler syndrome.

For more information, call Dr. Gaylis's office at 305-652-6676 or email ngaylis@rheum-care.com.

Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care, as well as Surfside and Miami Beach politics for the station.