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World Next big COVID-19 treatment may be manufactured antibodies

15:55  03 august  2020
15:55  03 august  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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(Reuters) - As the world awaits a COVID - 19 vaccine, the next big advance in battling the pandemic could come from a class of biotech therapies widely used against cancer and other disorders - antibodies designed specifically to attack this new virus.

The treatment is monoclonal antibody therapy, and the antibodies come from people who have recovered from "I think monoclonal antibody therapy has enormous promise as the next big thing for Covid - 19 Like any treatment under development, it might not pan out. But if it does, it could treat

FILE PHOTO: Biotech Sorrento Therapeutics during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in California © Reuters/Mike Blake FILE PHOTO: Biotech Sorrento Therapeutics during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in California

By Deena Beasley

(Reuters) - As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, the next big advance in battling the pandemic could come from a class of biotech therapies widely used against cancer and other disorders - antibodies designed specifically to attack this new virus.

Development of monoclonal antibodies to target the virus has been endorsed by leading scientists. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, called them "almost a sure bet" against COVID-19.

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The COVID - 19 pandemic is an "all hands on deck moment," David Reese, Amgen's research and development chief told Reuters. Company officials said Otezla may be able to suppress inflammation from an overactive immune Next big COVID - 19 treatment may be manufactured antibodies .

Science ’s COVID - 19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center. One of the first people to be diagnosed with COVID - 19 in the United States hopes a legacy of her nightmare—the antibodies it left in her blood—will lead to a drug that can help others infected with the novel coronavirus that has now

a man standing in front of a sign: FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield © Reuters/Phil Noble FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield

When a virus gets past the body's initial defenses, a more specific response kicks in, triggering production of cells that target the invader. These include antibodies that recognize and lock onto a virus, preventing the infection from spreading.

FILE PHOTO: Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego works on developing an antibody © Reuters/Bing Guan FILE PHOTO: Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego works on developing an antibody

Monoclonal antibodies - grown in bioreactor vats - are copies of these naturally-occurring proteins.

Scientists are still working out the exact role of neutralizing antibodies in recovery from COVID-19, but drugmakers are confident that the right antibodies or a combination can alter the course of the disease that has claimed more than 675,000 lives globally.

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said an experimental antibody treatment for Covid - 19 could be available as soon as this fall, an expedited “We’ve sort of done it before but now we are trying to take it to the next level.” The therapy consists of a cocktail of two antibodies , which are manufactured

Antibody testing determines if you had COVID - 19 (coronavirus) infection in the past. It differs from testing to diagnose if you currently have COVID - 19 . Eligibility may vary, depending on the availability of tests. A health care professional takes a blood sample, usually by a finger prick or by drawing blood

a close up of a flag: FILE PHOTO: An Amgen sign at the company's office in South San Francisco © Reuters/Robert Galbraith FILE PHOTO: An Amgen sign at the company's office in South San Francisco "Antibodies can block infectivity. That is a fact," Regeneron Pharmaceuticals executive Christos Kyratsous told Reuters.

Regeneron is testing a two-antibody cocktail, which it believes limits the ability of the virus' to escape better than one, with data on its efficacy expected by late summer or early fall. "Protection will wane over time. Dosing is something we don't know yet," said Kyratsous.

The U.S. government in June awarded Regeneron a $450 million supply contract. The company said it can immediately begin production at its U.S. plant if regulators approve the treatment.

Eli Lilly and Co , Amgen , and GlaxoSmithKline were cleared by the U.S. government to pool manufacturing resources in order to scale up supplies if any of these drugs prove successful.

Even with that unusual cooperation among rivals, manufacturing these medicines is complex and capacity is limited. There is also a debate over whether a single antibody will be powerful enough to stop COVID-19.

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A medicine that may treat and prevent Covid - 19 is now being tested in patients in multiple sites around the United States, according to an announcement Thursday from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc

Scientists around the world have been racing to develop treatments , cures and a vaccine for COVID - 19 - and are getting closer by the day. Jacob Glanville

AstraZeneca said it plans to start human trials of its dual-antibody combination within weeks.

Lilly, which began human testing in June of two antibody candidates in separate trials, is focusing on a one-drug approach.

"If you need a higher dosage or more antibodies, fewer people can be treated," Lilly Chief Scientific Officer Dan Skovronsky said.

'INSTANT IMMUNITY'

Unlike vaccines, which activate the body's own immune system, the impact of infused antibodies eventually dissipates.

Still, drugmakers say monoclonal antibodies could temporarily prevent infection in at-risk people such as medical workers and the elderly. They could also be used as a therapeutic bridge until vaccines become widely available.

"In a prophylactic setting we think we may achieve coverage for up to six months," said Phil Pang, chief medical officer of Vir Biotechnology , which aims to start testing an antibody in non-hospitalized patients next month with partner GSK. "The advantage of an antibody is that it is basically instant immunity," said Mark Brunswick, senior vice president at Sorrento Therapeutics , which aims to begin human trials next month of a single antibody candidate.

Safety risks for monoclonal antibodies are considered low, but their cost can be quite high. These type of drugs for cancer can cost over $100,000 a year.

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(Bloomberg) — Catching COVID - 19 once may not protect you from getting it again, according to the World Health Organization, a finding that could “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID - 19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection ,” the United

A new serology, or antibody , test for COVID - 19 has been developed and is now in use by Mayo Clinic Laboratories. . Unlike the molecular diagnostic test for

There is also concern that the coronavirus could become resistant to specific antibodies. Researchers are already at work on second-generation compounds with targets other than the crown-like spikes the virus uses to invade cells.

"We are trying to develop something that is complementary," Amgen research chief David Reese said. Amgen is working with Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp .

Researchers in a recent paper published in the journal Nature said they had discovered several new, very potent, antibodies directed to an area where the virus attaches to human cells and to a region of the spike that has not attracted attention.

"To avoid development of resistance you want to target different sites," study author and Columbia University professor David Ho told Reuters.

There are also questions about when in the course of the illness it might be best to employ these new weapons. "Giving an antibody later on after infection might not be that helpful, said Florian Krammer, microbiology professor at New York's Icahn School of Medicine. "Given early, they probably work well."

(Reporting By Deena Beasley, editing by Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot)

Scientists look beyond antibodies in virus immunity hunt .
Could the ghosts of your previous colds help protect you from COVID-19, even if you have never been infected by the new coronavirus spreading across the planet? Scientists are investigating a poorly-understood immune mechanism in the body that they hope could help efforts to curb the pandemic. At the moment, people who think they have had the virus might get a serological test to check for antibodies. These proteins help fight off infection and may prevent them from getting the disease again in the future -- but there are signs that with COVID-19 they could fade away within weeks.

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