Eli Lilly created the monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment alongside AbCellera, after the pair embarked on a multi-year partnership. The two companies prioritized work on a potential treatment against COVID-19.
According to the companies, researchers from Lilly, AbCellera and the Vaccine Research Center at the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases (NIAID) discovered the antibody in a blood sample taken from a patient who had recovered from COVID-19.
This breakthrough took place just three months ago and, yesterday, Lilly announced that the first patient had been dosed with the antibody in the US.
The results from the Phase I trial are expected by the end of this month, with a Phase II trial beginning should the treatment show potential.
David Skovronsky, chief scientific officer of Lilly Research Laboratories, noted in a statement that the company is already starting ‘large-scale manufacturing’ of LY-CoV555, the treatment candidate. Further than this, he stated that Lilly wants ‘several hundred thousand doses’ available by the end of 2020.
In terms of the treatment’s use, Lilly will investigate whether it can be used as both a treatment in hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients, as well as for administration in a preventative setting for ‘vulnerable patients’ who are not suitable candidates for vaccines.
At the moment, a significant portion of research and funding is going into developing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, as this will provide a long-term solution to the pandemic.
However, any vaccine currently in development will likely take until the beginning of next year or longer to be administered widely, as a result there is a still a pressing need for a treatment to be an option, or even multiple viable treatments to counter mutations, for patients in need of immediate help.
Lilly is the first to reach the clinical trial stage for its treatment but there are additional treatments in the pipeline; as of the end of last month, BIO reported that there were approximately 202 treatments in development, though only 7% of these are specific to COVID-19.