Eli Lilly and AbCellera Dose First Patients with COVID-19 Antibody in Phase I Study


Eli Lilly and AbCellera dosed the first patients in a Phase I study of a potential antibody treatment for COVID-19. The two companies were able to get their antibody candidate into the clinic within two months of announcing their collaboration in response to the global pandemic.

The announcement was made a day after it was announced that more than 6 million people across the globe have been infected with the virus, including 1.79 million in the United States. COVID-19 has been responsible for the deaths of more than 372,000 people, with nearly one-third (104,383) in the U.S.

Patients were dosed with LY-CoV555, a neutralizing IgG1 monoclonal antibody (mAb) directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. It is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, which should neutralize the virus, and potentially prevent and treat COVID-19. Because it’s an antibody derived from the blood of a recovered patient, Eli Lilly said LY-CoV555 is the first potential new medicine specifically designed to attack SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

LY-CoV555 was developed at record speed, taking less than three months to advance from screen to first-in-human clinical trials. That feat was achieved due to the sense of urgency surrounding COVID-19, which has created an “all-hands-on-deck” attitude across the biopharma industry. Eli Lilly developed the antibody after Vancouver-based AbCellera’s rapid artificial intelligence-based pandemic response platform identified it from a blood sample taken from one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from COVID-19. AbCellera identified the candidate within 11 days of screening. The first patients in the study were dosed at major medical centers in the U.S., including NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories, praised the collaboration that brought this candidate into human testing in such a rapid manner.

“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 potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and may be particularly important for groups hardest hit by the disease such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems,” Skovronsky said in a statement.

Eli Lilly and AbCellera will review the results of the Phase I trial in June and plan to initiate broader efficacy trials, Skovronsky said. A Phase II study will include non-hospitalized patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Not only do the companies intend additional clinical trials, Eli Lilly and AbCellera are planning to initiate large-scale manufacturing of LY-CoV555 in order to meet potential demand.

“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, with the goal of having several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year,” Skovronsky added. 

Lilly intends to test this first antibody as well as other neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 over the next several months. Lilly intends to test both single antibody therapy as well as combinations of  Lilly antibodies as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.


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