Will antibody therapies work on patients with severe COVID? Setbacks in new Lilly, Regeneron drugs raise serious doubts

Credit: Ktsdesign/Science Source
Credit: Ktsdesign/Science Source

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly have [reported clinical study setbacks, which] raised questions about the effectiveness of antibody therapies in patients with severe COVID-19 compared to patients with mild-to-moderate forms of the virus.

Regeneron said [October 30] it agreed to hold off on further enrollment of patients requiring high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation in the Phase II/III portion of an adaptive Phase I/II/III trial assessing its two-antibody “cocktail” REGN-COV2 in hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19.

Regeneron is the second developer of a leading antibody candidate against COVID-19 to suffer a clinical setback this past week. On October 26, the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) halted the up-to-10,000 patient Phase III ACTIV-3 trial it was conducting to assess the safety and effectiveness of Lilly’s LY-CoV555.

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“A disappointing replication: monoclonal antibodies to #SARSCoV2 don’t provide benefit to hospitalized patients w/ moderate-severe illness,” tweeted Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Translational Research Institute, on [October 30].

Topol, who is also professor, molecular medicine and executive vice president of Scripps Research, added that the Regeneron and Lilly disappointments reflected “the need to treat #COVID19 early or preventatively.”

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