2 antibody updates

June 2, 2020
Today, we have updates from two members developing COVID-19 antibody therapeutics: SAB Biotherapeutics’ antibodies look incredibly potent in preclinical study, while Eli Lilly has launched a clinical trial for its antibody treatment. We have the details, plus news from…

Today, we have updates from two members developing COVID-19 antibody therapeutics: SAB Biotherapeutics’ antibodies look incredibly potent in preclinical study, while Eli Lilly has launched a clinical trial for its antibody treatment. We have the details, plus news from the Senate, in around 930 words, or 4 minutes, 40 seconds.

SAB’s super antibodies

Promising news from BIO member SAB Biotherapeutics: according to preclinical study, their biotech cows are producing potent neutralizing COVID-19 antibodies, and they’ve started manufacturing in preparation for clinical trials.

To catch you up, SAB is a clinical-stage biopharma based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, using genetic engineering and antibody science to breed cows with fully human antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. 

Why cows? These large animals have robust immune systems and can produce more antibody than a lot of animals used in biotech—and a LOT more than convalescent human patients.

And the technology looks promising: “SAB’s novel approach, leveraging genetically engineered cattle to produce fully human antibodies, enables a scalable and reliable production of targeted, higher potency neutralizing antibody product than has been previously possible. As a fully human polyclonal antibody, SAB’s novel therapeutic candidate for COVID-19 deploys the same natural immune response to fight the disease as recovered patients, but with a much higher concentration of targeted antibodies,” explains the press release

They’re on track to begin clinical trials this summer, and they’ve started clinical manufacturing in preparation.  

What they’re saying: “In just seven weeks, we’ve accelerated development of a specifically targeted natural human polyclonal therapeutic, without the need for human serum, and generated large volumes of highly-potent neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, to produce clinical lots of our COVID-19 therapeutic candidate, SAB-185,” said SAB CEO Eddie Sullivan. “Consistent with data across SAB’s platform in other indications, these data suggest that our potential COVID-19 therapeutic may remain effective even as SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve.”   

Why it matters: “A highly-potent, polyclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19 could prove critical in combatting this pandemic as it could potentially treat severely ill patients and provide protective antibodies for front-line responders, mission-critical staff, and high-risk populations, such as the elderly and immune compromised.” 

Want to know more? Listen to our recent episode of the I AM BIO Podcast featuring SAB’s Eddie Sullivan.


More Agriculture & Environment News:

Science: NIH-halted study unveils its massive analysis of bat coronaviruses
“An international team of scientists whose funding for research on bat coronaviruses was recently yanked by the U.S. government has published what it calls the most comprehensive analysis ever done of such viruses. In a preprint posted yesterday on bioRxiv, the researchers examine partial genetic sequences of 781 coronaviruses found in bats in China, more than one-third of which have never been published.”



Lilly tests COVID-19 antibody treatment

BIO member Eli Lilly launched a Phase I study of its potential COVID-19 antibody treatment in humans. Here’s what we know. 

The antibody treatment, or LY-CoV555, uses an antibody identified in the blood of one of the first patients diagnosed with COVID-19. 

The Phase I study was launched in U.S. cities including New York and Los Angeles, to assess safety and tolerability in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

And yes, it was developed through collaboration. Lilly’s collaborating with Canadian biotech AbCellera Biologics Inc. and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Lilly expects safety results by the end of June. And in the meantime, Lilly’s scaling up manufacturing so they can be ready to go with several hundred thousand doses upon approval, and exploring other potential COVID-19 antibody treatments, too. 

Why it matters: “Antibody therapies such as LY-CoV555 may have potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and may be particularly important for groups hardest hit by the disease such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems," said Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's Chief Scientific Officer and President of Lilly Research Laboratories. 

Where can I learn more? Eli Lilly Chairman and CEO Dave Ricks will hold a fireside chat during BIO Digital next week, where he’ll surely talk about this development and what else Lilly’s got in the works. (But you have to register to see it!)

Read more about it in the Wall Street Journal.


More Health Care News:

AP: Gilead says drug helped moderately ill coronavirus patients
“By the 11th day in the study, those on five days of remdesivir were 65% more likely to improve by at least one on a seven-point scale that included measures such as needing treatment with a breathing machine.” 

Biopharma Dive: Q&A with Daria Hazuda, Merck's head of infectious disease discovery
“With a flurry of announcements, Merck revealed it had cut deals for two coronavirus vaccines and one antiviral drug. All of them are either in or near their first human tests against the disease. And that, given Merck’s track record—it recently developed the only successful vaccine against Ebola—immediately makes the company's efforts important to watch.” 

MarketWatch: Pfizer to invest up to $500 million in small and medium-sized biotech companies
“The program will focus on small to medium-sized biotech companies in the areas of internal medicine, inflammation and immunology, oncology, rare disease, vaccines and hospital.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: Yesterday, as law enforcement unleashed tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters outside the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House, Trump threatened to deploy the military to end the protests across America. Today, he’s expected to sign an executive order on religious freedom, then meet with HHS Secretary Alex Azar. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is in session, voting on the nomination of White House lawyer Brian Miller as “Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, a position established by Congress in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to make sure public funds are not misspent,” reports Government Executive. Meanwhile, several high-ranking Senate Republicans are speaking out and urging Trump to take a more unifying tone, and Sen. Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he wants a vote this year on drug pricing legislation.

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