Studies extend hopes for antibody drugs against COVID-19

Virus Outbreak Antibody Drugs
Posted at 1:59 PM, Jan 27, 2021

New results extend hopes for drugs that supply antibodies to fight COVID-19, suggesting they can help keep patients out of the hospital and possibly prevent illness in some uninfected people.

Eli Lilly said Tuesday that a combination of its drugs reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, non-hospitalized patients.

The pharmaceutical company said that together its drugs, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, demonstrated statistically significant improvements on all key secondary endpoints, providing strong evidence that the therapy reduced viral load and accelerated symptom resolution.

"These exciting results, which replicate positive Phase 2 data in a much larger set of patients, add valuable clinical evidence about the role neutralizing antibodies can play in fighting this pandemic. While the preliminary nature of Phase 2 results from COVID-19 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies may have limited acceptance of treatment, these Phase 3 data further strengthen the available evidence," said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories in a statement.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said partial results on its drug suggest it helps prevent infection in housemates of people with COVID-19.

"These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggest that it may both reduce transmission of the virus as well as reduce viral and disease burden in those who still get infected," said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron in a statement. "Even with the emerging availability of active vaccines, we continue to see hundreds of thousands of people infected daily, actively spreading the virus to their close contacts. The REGEN-COV antibody cocktail may be able to help break this chain by providing immediate passive immunity to those at high risk of infection, in contrast to active vaccines which take weeks to provide protection."

Some of the antibodies are already being used to treat certain patients and the drug-makers say they will seek to expand that authorization to allow prevention approaches as well.