The treatment called LY-CoV555 was developed from the blood sample of one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from COVID-19. The medicine is directed against the spike protein of coronavirus and is designed to block entry into human cells, neutralizing the virus and potentially preventing and treating COVID-19, according to a release from the company.
“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. Antibody therapies such as LY-CoV555 may have the potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19, ” said Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer.
“Antibody treatments like the one being studied here hold promise to be effective medical countermeasures against this deadly infection,” said Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of infectious diseases and immunology and director of the Vaccine Center at NYU Langone Health.
The placebo-controlled study will assess the safety and tolerability of the treatment in participants hospitalized with coronavirus and results are expected by the end of this month.
If the results show the antibody is safe, Lilly will launch a Phase 2 study to see how the treatment works in vulnerable populations.
“At the same time as we are investigating safety and efficacy, we also are starting large-scale manufacturing of this potential therapy. 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,” said Skovronsky.
He said the goal is to have several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year.
The company also plans to study the drug for preventative purposes in vulnerable patient populations who historically are not the best candidates for vaccines.
Lilly has other treatments in the works should this one prove to be ineffective or unsafe.
The company intends to test other neutralizing antibodies against coronavirus over the next several months along with also testing combinations of antibodies known as antibody cocktails.
Existing medications from Lilly are also now being studied to look for potential in treating coronavirus complications.