Eli Lilly starts first study of potential COVID-19 antibody treatment

Henrietta Brewer
June 3, 2020

Indianapolis pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly announced Monday that it has begun testing a potential antibody treatment for the coronavirus.

The lead drug in the programme is LY-CoV555, a neutralising immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which the virus uses to bind to human cells.

While medications now on the market have been repurposed to fight COVID-19, Lilly's Chief Scientific Officer and President of Lilly Research Laboratories Daniel Skovronsky says this new treatment is specifically focused on treating the virus, and a survivor's blood was used to develop it.

The treatment known as LY-CoV555 was developed as part of a collaboration between Lilly and Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics Inc. The study will assess both its safety and its tolerability in patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

We are committed to working with our industry partners to generate scientific evidence to meet the urgent need for treatments that reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease.

According to Lilly, its antibody treatment stemmed from the recovery of the 1 patient who won the battle against COVID-19 in the United States. At the same time as we are investigating safety and efficacy, we also are starting large-scale manufacturing of this potential therapy. The company also plans to study the drug in a preventative setting, focusing on vulnerable patient populations who historically are not optimal candidates for vaccines.

It is researching multiple other approaches to treating COVID-19, including repurposing existing Lilly medicines.

The drug has been given a temporary name: LY-CoV555, said CNN.

"At AbCellera, we work every day to make a difference in the lives patients". According to Eli Lilly, this is the first drug that has been specifically created to block COVID-19 infection because it was derived from a recovered patient.

"Later this month, we will review the results of this first human study and intend to initiate broader efficacy trials". If the lowest dose level in those eight patients is well tolerated and safe, a group of eight additional patients would be randomized to receive a slightly higher dose or placebo, with the process repeating for a potential total of up to 32 patients infused over 29 days.

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