Regeneron says its antibody cocktail prevents and treats Covid-19 in animals

Company has signed $450m contract to provide US with the treatment if it succeeds

Regeneron has already started late-stage clinical trials in humans to assess the antibody treatment’s ability to prevent and treat Covid-19. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

Regeneron has already started late-stage clinical trials in humans to assess the antibody treatment’s ability to prevent and treat Covid-19. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

 

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a US drug development group that has a major presence in Co Limerick, has said the Covid-19 antibody drug combination it is developing both prevented and treated the disease in rhesus macaques (monkeys) and hamsters, adding to hopes it might work for people.

The US biotech company said in the animal study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, the cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies was able to “almost completely block establishment of virus infection”.

Regeneron said the cocktail was also able to minimise infection in a second study in which animals were infected with a much higher level of the virus. The prophylactic effect was greatly diminished with a lower dose of the drug, the company said.

It said the results matched or exceeded effects recently shown in animal studies of vaccine candidates.

Effective treatments and vaccines are seen as essential to halting the pandemic that has claimed more than 690,000 lives worldwide. The infected animals treated with the antibodies cleared the virus faster than those given a placebo, the company said.

The lead researchers said the data suggests the therapy may offer clinical benefit in both prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

They also said the animals did not show any signs of increased viral load or worsening of pathology after treatment, an important safety signal that suggests it will not worsen symptoms in humans.

Regeneron has already started late-stage clinical trials in humans to assess the antibody treatment’s ability to prevent and treat Covid-19.

The company signed a $450 million contract with the US government as part of its Operation Warp Speed programme to provide the US with the treatment if it succeeds.

Monoclonal antibodies are among the most widely used biotechnology medicines. Eli Lilly and other drugmakers are testing similar treatments against Covid-19. – Reuters