Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) has begun what it says is the world’s first study of a potential antibody treatment for COVID-19. The study is part of a previously-announced collaboration with AbCellera, a startup based in Vancouver specializing in antibody drugs.
Lilly says the investigational medicine, known as LY-CoV555, is the first potential new medicine designed specifically to target the virus that causes COVID-19. It has been given to patients at several major U.S. medical centers, including the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
“We are privileged to help usher in this new era of drug development with the first potential new medicine specifically designed to attack the virus,” said Daniel Skovronsky, chief scientific officer for Lilly and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. “Antibody therapies such as LY-CoV555 may have potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and may be particularly important for groups hardest hit by the disease such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.”
Skovronsky says researchers will review the results of the study later this month with plans to begin broader efficacy trials. He says manufacturing of the therapy is also beginning on a large scale.
“If LY-CoV555 becomes part of the near-term solution for COVID-19, we want to be ready to deliver it to patients as quickly as possible, with the goal of having several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year.”
Lilly says if the study’s Phase 1 results show the antibody can be administered safely, the company plans to move to the next phase, which will include studying the therapy in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The company also plans to study a preventative use for the drug.