Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., a US-based biotechnology company, recently announced exciting results from two animal studies testing its COVID-19 antibody drug formulation. Utilizing its proprietary platform called “VelocImmune”, the company is able to rapidly manufacture fully human antibodies – the proteins that circulate in the blood and attack pathogens by attaching to their surface. The two studies involved injecting rhesus monkeys and hamsters with an antibody cocktail targeted towards the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In both animals, injecting the antibodies nearly completely blocked the establishment of an infection after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In addition, when treated with increasing viral loads, the same antibody regimen minimized the effects of infection, thereby showing potential benefit for both prevention and treatment for COVID-19.
Furthermore, treated animals who did show signs of infection did not exhibit signs of increased viral load (i.e. symptom severity) nor did they show any signs of pathology after treatment (i.e. no organ damage from the administration of the antibody cocktail). Researchers are hopeful that they will see a similar response in humans. Antibody regimens have been used to successfully treat cancer and block overactive immune systems in people.
By applying this technology to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, these studies outline yet another avenue of treatment towards the goal of discovering a vaccine before the end of this year. Regeneron is also the recipient of a $500 million contract with the US government as part of “Operation Warp Speed”, and with continued success from late Stage III trials, Regeneron says they are prepared for rapid production of its antibody treatment in early 2021.
Please click here to read the original press release from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.