An antibody therapy from Eli Lilly could be on the market by the end of the year, according to the CEO of a biotech firm working with the pharmaceutical giant.
“We’re moving at breakneck speed,” said Carl Hansen, CEO of AbCellera. “It’s like running 100 meters in two seconds.”
The company is two weeks into Phase 2 trials, which will involve hundreds of Covid-19 patients. Some of them will get the antibody drug at varying doses and others will receive a placebo — a pill that does nothing — and then doctors will compare how each group fares.
Hansen said the Phase 1 trial of a few dozen patients showed the drug was safe.
To make the drug, AbCellera picked “an absolute elite superstar antibody” from someone who had recovered from Covid-19, he added.
The scientists had plenty of antibodies to choose from. In just 10 milliliters of blood, the patient had more than 500 antibodies. The scientists chose the one that was the most potent in fighting off coronavirus and was also easy to develop, clone and manufacture.
That drug was tested in Phase 1 with hospitalized patients and is being tested in Phase 2 in patients who are at home.
Hansen said the drug could help another two groups — those who have been exposed to Covid-19 but have not developed symptoms, and those at high risk of being exposed, such as health care workers.