The Indianapolis-based drug-maker Eli Lilly and Company announced Monday that they have started the first human trial of an antibody therapy developed to cure COVID-19.
The results of the first phase of the trial, which focuses on identifying if the therapy is safe and well-tolerated, are expected in late June.
The therapy is being conducted on some COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Emory University in Atlanta, and New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine in New York.
Should the trial prove that the treatment is effective in combating COVID-19, it could be available as early as autumn.
Eli Lilly’s senior vice president and chief scientific officer Dr. Dan Skovronsky said, “Until now, scientists have been trying to repurpose medicines, drugs, that were designed for new diseases to see if they work in Covid-19, but as soon as this epidemic started, we got to work making a new medicine against this disease.”
“Now we’re ready and testing it in patients.”
The antibody treatment is a product of the collaboration between Eli Lilly and AbCellera, a biotechnology company based in Canada.
Scientists at AbCellera and the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases selected potent antibodies from the blood sample gathered from one of the first US patients who had recovered from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Lilly scientists designed the treatment called monoclonal antibody therapy – an approach that has worked to treat other illnesses such as HIV, asthma, lupus, Ebola and some forms of cancer.
Skovronsky said that lab results show the treatment blocked the ability of the virus to infect the cells.
While the data is not yet published, scientists got the approval to take the next step and try it with patients.
Skovronsky also said that company gave the treatment a temporary name, “We call it LY-CoV555, lucky triple 5.”