On Wednesday evening, October 28, Arctic Aurora LifeScience portfolio company Regeneron announced positive key interim data from its ongoing clinical study that examines the company’s antibody cocktail in COVID-19 patients in an outpatient (non-hospitalized) setting.
The main takeaways so far from the study are 1) measured over a one-week timeframe the treatment significantly reduces virus levels in infected patients when compared to placebo. This is the core objective of an antibody treatment directed towards a virus. 2) patients given the active treatment were considerably less likely to seek hospital care for their illness. During the one-month period following study treatment, patients that received Regeneron’s treatment had a reduction in COVID-19 related medical visits compared with placebo.
In addition, the treatment appears to be particularly effective in patients displaying two important biological risk factors associated with COVID-19. Those who either are subjected to high virus levels or those not surmounting a good immune response on their own are at higher risk of acquiring severe disease. Previous results from Regeneron has shown that the treatment can play an especially important role in those patients. The latest dataset from Regeneron also showed at patients with underlying risk factors such as high age, obesity and cardiovascular disease where also particularly benefitting from the antibody treatment. Hence the treatment with the antibodies to US President Trump after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 may therefore not have been a bad idea, considering his underlying risk factors.
Applying treatment with an antiviral effect early in disease progression appear to be key for the antibody treatments as shown by both Regeneron and Eli Lilly that also are working on a similar treatment. This is also were Gilead’s antiviral treatment remdesivir, that recently got full COVID-19 approval from the US FDA, works best. The next challenge for the antibody treatments is now to rapidly scale up manufacturing. Antibodies are more cumbersome to produce than most conventional drugs and the amounts to achieve therapeutic effect are high so there is a need for massive collaborative efforts to ramp up manufacturing to satisfy the high demand. Many drug developers that have shown activity in COVID-19 patients are therefore teaming up with other manufacturers to meet the demand, Regeneron have for example an agreement in place with Roche to increase the ramp-up of the manufacturing of the antibody cocktail.