Next big COVID-19 treatment may be manufactured antibodies

Next big COVID-19 treatment may be manufactured antibodies

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, the next big advance in battling the pandemic could come from a class of biotech therapies widely used against cancer and other disorders – antibodies designed specifically to attack this new virus.

Development of monoclonal antibodies to target the virus has been endorsed by leading scientists. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, called them “almost a sure bet” against COVID-19. When a virus gets past the body’s initial defenses, a more specific response kicks in, triggering production of cells that target the invader. These include antibodies that recognize and lock onto a virus, preventing the infection from spreading.

Monoclonal antibodies – grown in bioreactor vats – are copies of these naturally-occurring proteins. Scientists are still working out the exact role of neutralizing antibodies in recovery from COVID-19, but drugmakers are confident that the right antibodies or a combination can alter the course of the disease that has claimed more than 675,000 lives globally. “Antibodies can block infectivity. That is a fact,” Regeneron Pharmaceuticals executive Christos Kyratsous told Reuters.

Regeneron is testing a two-antibody cocktail, which it believes limits the ability of the virus’ to escape better than one, with data on its efficacy expected by late summer or early fall. “Protection will wane over time. Dosing is something we don’t know yet,” said Kyratsous. The US government in June awarded Regeneron a $450 million supply contract. The company said it can immediately begin production at its US plant if regulators approve the treatment. (Reuters)

Posted in