Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody ‘cocktail’ therapy enters clinical trials—could be ready for emergency use in the fall

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said [June 11 that] it is beginning to test in humans a potential coronavirus drug, the latest therapy to enter clinical trials.

The company plans to evaluate whether the drug—a combination of two antibodies—can treat Covid-19 patients and possibly even prevent infections. If the drug proves to work safely, it could be available for emergency use as early as the fall, Regeneron Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos said.

The intent of using antibodies against the new coronavirus is to block it from entering a person’s cells by binding to the spike proteins jutting from the surface of the virus that it uses to latch onto the cells. If the virus can’t latch onto and penetrate the cells, other molecular defenses circulating in the body known as macrophages would have time to hunt down and destroy the virus. By contrast, antiviral drugs are designed to attack the virus after it enters a cell.

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The company hopes the combination, or cocktail, of two antibodies binding to different parts of the coronavirus will prove more effective than one alone. 

If the drug shows promise in infected patients, Regeneron plans to study the drug in people who aren’t infected but are at high risk, such as health-care workers or a family member of an infected patient, to see if the injections could prevent infection, Dr. Yancopoulos said.

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