While some potential vaccines have emerged in the global race to find a way to stop the spread of coronovirus (Covid-19), many scientists and researchers believe that antibody-based therapies are great for treating already infected people. Holds promise
How does antibody therapy work?
This therapy uses antibodies generated by infected humans or animals to prevent disease in patients. They date back to the late 19th century, when researchers used serum derived from the blood of infected animals to treat diphtheria.
For the Covid-19 treatment, researchers are studying the use of concentrated plasma and other treatments performed with blood from recently recovered patients.
Recently, scientists have developed a treatment called monoclonal antibodies – antibodies that can be isolated and manufactured in large quantities to treat diseases such as Ebola or cancer. Companies like Eli Lilly and Co and Regeron Pharmaceuticals in the United States are trying to use this approach to develop their treatments.
Unlike proto plasma, manufacturers do not require a steady supply of antibody-enriched blood to produce monoclonal antibodies, so this approach may be easier to scale.
How are they different from vaccines?
In general, the goal of a vaccine is to produce an immune response that can prevent someone from getting sick with the disease, while antibody-derived products are usually designed to treat the disease.
And while some drugmakers have suggested that antibody treatments can be used prophylactically – Regeneron’s chief scientific officer George Yankopulos has said that their treatment can be a bridge to a vaccine – it can be expensive.
“You can go to a nursing home or use it, because antibodies have a very long half-life,” Dr. Said Betty Diamond, director of molecular medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research.
“You can decide that you’re going to use it as a prevention in this high risk group, but you won’t do it for the whole country.”
The amount of protein in antibody drugs is generally more expensive than vaccines, said Feng Hui, chief operating officer of Shanghai Juni Biosciences. Antibody drugs contain hundreds or a thousand times more protein than those found in a vaccine shot.
Who is developing antibody therapy for Covid-19?
Eli Lilly is collaborating with Junshi and Canadian biotech firm Abcellra Biologics to develop differentiated antibody treatments, both of which have initiated early-stage testing in humans.
Regeneron plans to begin a clinical study later this month to test its antibody cocktail treatment, which was derived from antibodies from genetically modified mice. Its purpose is “hundreds of thousands of preventive doses are available by the end of summer or after fall.”
The CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, which includes Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals and CSL Behring, is working on hyperimmune globulin therapy derived from relaxant plasma, which can offer a standardized dose of antibodies to patients with matched blood types. No need to be limited.
Antibody therapy against the coronavirus (ATAC) project, funded by the European Commission and led by the Karolinska Research Institute of Sweden, is looking at a similar approach as well as monoclonal antibodies. Under the project, monoclonal antibodies extracted from convulsive plasma are now being tested on human volunteers in Germany and animals in Switzerland.
GlaxoSmithKline of the UK is working with Weir Biotechnology Inc. to develop potential antibody therapies that select the best antibodies out of plasma. AbbVie has also announced a collaboration to develop antibody therapy. Singapore’s state research body A * Star is working with Japan’s Chugai Pharmabody Research on an antibody for clinical use.