USA pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly revealed Monday in a news release that it has started phase one of a potential COVID-19 antibody treatment in humans.
The experimental treatment, LY-CoV555, has been developed through collaboration with privately held AbCellera Biologics, which Lilly partnered with in March to test antibodies to treat and prevent COVID-19.
"What we're doing here is taking patients with Covid, offering the opportunity to participate in a new treatment, hopefully to help them recover more quickly and uneventfully from their infection", said Dr. Mark J. Mulligan, director of the infectious-disease and vaccine-research units at NYU Langone Health, according to the newspaper.
The antibody has now been experimentally administered to patients at large USA medical facilities, including the New York University Grossman School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. The two companies developed the COVID-19 antibody treatment, the first of its kind, in less than three months, deriving it from the blood of one of the first U.S. patients to have recovered from the respiratory illness.
AbCellera and the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) identified the antibody.
The placebo-controlled study will assess safety and tolerability in patients hospitalised with with the disease, and results are expected by the end of June.
Lilly plans to review the result of the study later in June and follow up with larger trials, while also starting large-scale manufacturing of the potential therapy.
Lilly's shares were up 2.5% at $156.75 before the bell. It is created to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, thus neutralizing the virus, potentially preventing and treating COVID-19. Lilly intends to test both single antibody therapy as well as combinations of Lilly antibodies (sometimes known as antibody cocktails) as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.
The first patients were dosed at medical centres in the US, including the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai.
If the drug is found to be safe, the company will move onto studying the potential treatment in non-hospitalized patients.