Glaxo, Eli Lilly Join Forces to Test Covid-19 Antibody Cocktail
(Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc and partner Vir Biotechnology Inc. have teamed up with Eli Lilly and Co. to test a combination of their Covid-19 antibody treatments to see whether they can better combat the virus and its variants together.
Glaxo and Vir are putting one of two antibodies they’re testing in trials with Lilly’s bamlanivimab to see how the pairing works in low-risk patients with mild to moderate symptoms, the companies said in a statement Wednesday.
Lilly’s neutralizing antibody was granted emergency use approval in the U.S in November as a treatment for patients at high risk of progressing from a mild to severe case or hospitalization.
The first patient has been dosed with the cocktail in a test, which is being run as a new arm in Lilly’s trials, according to the drugmakers. Glaxo and Vir in August started human trials for their antibody, which is still in middle- and late-stage testing and not yet approved for use. A second antibody is in early-stage testing.
“Variants could emerge that require new therapeutic options, which is why Lilly is studying bamlanivimab together with other neutralizing antibodies,” said Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer, in a statement. We want to “develop therapies to treat current and future strains of Covid-19 until vaccines are widely available and utilized.”
Lilly reported positive results Tuesday from another combination with its antibody drug. A mix of bamlanivimab with the antibody etesevimab cut the chances of hospitalizations and deaths by 70% in high-risk patients. More than 100,000 doses of the pair are currently available, and Lilly is working to produce another million doses through the middle of the year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the cocktail, Lilly said.
Antibody drugs, which mimic proteins the body naturally makes to repel viruses, are some of the few therapeutics to be successfully developed for Covid-19. Manufactured by companies like Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Lilly, they are being used in recently diagnosed patients who are at high risk of severe illness, and more recently have shown promise as a preventative.
The therapies are difficult to make and costly and complex to administer, barriers that have impeded uptake. The emergence of coronavirus variants, meanwhile, has threatened to undermine their efficacy, leading companies to advance the new approaches.
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