TARRYTOWN, NY — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Thursday that it would begin a clinical trial of a dual antibody cocktail for the prevention and treatment of the new coronavirus. The Tarrytown-based company is one of several working on antibody treatments to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The drug cocktail is named REGN-COV2, and the clinical program will involve four separate study groups: patients hospitalized with COVID-19; people who are not hospitalized but are infected and symptomatic; people who are not infected but are at high risk, such as health-care workers or first responders, and people who are not infected but who have been in close contact with someone who is, such as a housemate.
The first studies will evaluate safety and efficacy in hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients. The placebo-controlled trials will be conducted at multiple sites.
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George Yancopoulus, M.D., co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, said the antibody cocktail has the potential to both prevent and treat a new coronavirus infection.
He said it also has the potential to preempt "viral escape," something the virus does by mutating to prevent being neutralized.
Regeneron scientists said the drug cocktail is made up of two potent, non-competing and virus-neutralizing antibodies. They bind themselves to the virus's spike — the "corona" — which diminishes the ability of mutant viruses to escape treatment.
Yancopoulos said the antibody cocktail approach may also have long-term utility for elderly and immuno-compromised patients, who often don't respond well to vaccines.
"Ultimately, the world needs multiple solutions for COVID-19, and the innovative biopharma industry is collectively working hard to help as many people as possible with a variety of complementary approaches," he said.
Regeneron said Science, the peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has accepted for publication two papers describing the creation of the two-antibody cocktail and its potential to diminish risk of viral escape. They will be published online Monday.
The company uses its trademarked VelociSuite technology that allows the scientists to rapidly, and at high-scale, manipulate the DNA of mice to create antibodies to help fight diseases. They give the genetically modified mice the new coronavirus to see what antibodies they produce.
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