The CEO of biotechnology company Regeneron tells CNN that’s he’s optimistic about an artificial antibody treatment for coronavirus that could enter clinical trials next month – but says it’s too soon to know whether it will help prevent or treat infection.
“We should be optimistic about this approach, but we have to get real data. In this environment, there’s nothing that can substitute for real science and real data,” Dr. Leonard Schleifer, CEO of Regeneron, said.
Unlike a vaccine, which triggers the immune system to develop antibodies, lab-made antibodies are infused directly into the blood, providing temporary immunity.
“Our approach takes advantage of what’s been known about the immune system for more than 100 years,” Schleifer told CNN.
The body naturally produces antibodies after being exposed to a virus, he said.
“Our approach is to generate these human antibodies artificially, so to speak, and give people those antibodies to either prevent them from getting infected if they’re at higher risk, or treat them," Schleifer said.
The company is hoping to enter clinical trials next month and might have hundreds of thousands of doses available by the end of summer, according to Dr. George Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s chief scientific officer.
Yancopoulos described the therapy as an “important stopgap” until a vaccine is available and said they would be complementary, he said on ABC.
“Vaccines can provide permanent immunity to much larger numbers of people,” he said. “This is why we need all of these efforts.”