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Building a bridge to a COVID-19 vaccine

Regeneron shares its latest progress on therapies for the pandemic at eyeforpharma Philadelphia virtual



Regeneron has shared high hopes for its two candidates in the fight against COVID-19 on the first day of the four-day eyeforpharma Philadelphia virtual event.
 
George Yancopolous, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron, revealed that the company expected to have a good idea of the prospects for Kevzara, one of the two therapies it is hoping will be effective in fighting the virus, within a month.
 
Regeneron is currently conducting a combined phase 2/3 adaptive trial for Kevzara. “We could be one to two weeks, at most a month away from knowing whether this is really making a difference or not,” said Yancopolous.
 
Speaking exclusively to Axel Threlfall, Reuters Editor at Large, Yancopolous added that if the therapy is proven to be effective, significant doses could be rapidly made available to those who have been hospitalised.  
 
“There are already of the order of hundreds of thousands or a million doses that could be put to use very soon for people in hospital, people on ventilators. We could produce more doses every month.”
 
Proven approach
At the same time Regeneron is also working on large-scale manufacturing of an antibody cocktail therapy which has the potential to enter human clinical studies by June. The hope is that this can be administered as prophylaxis before exposure to the virus or to treat those already infected.
 
“We are using technology and approaches that have worked before…saving patients with Ebola. The technologies and our people are working 24/7 and we are at or ahead of schedule,” said Yancopolous.
 
The company is working to dedicate its upstate New York manufacturing facility to production of the therapy, he said. “This is happening right now. We are literally trying to build the plane while we are flying it here. We could produce up to one million doses a month in that plant.”
 
He added that the company is open to speaking to others in the industry to devote even more manufacturing capacity to the therapy.
 
When asked which had the most potential for impact on treating the virus, Yancopolous said: “The antiviral antibody is the more targeted approach [but] both could really have an impact.
 
“If you could prevent infection in frontline health workers and treat people early in the infection so they don’t progress to ventilators, then you would say the antibody [cocktail] approach would have more widespread impact on changing the course of this disease. That is why we have devoted so many of our efforts to that. It is a bridge to the vaccine.”
 
A new focus
This approach could even prove more powerful than a vaccine for such small, targeted populations, he added. “It could change the course of the epidemic if this antibody approach works.”
 
Yancopolous expressed the hope that despite the costs of the pandemic both directly and also as a result of the delays it would cause in other work, such as in cancer and immunological disease treatments, the pandemic would create a new sense of the priorities around which the industry should now focus.
 
“I hope we come out of this with a renewed focus on the big problems. We should be coming together to focus on the incredible challenges of disease and how much disease burden there really is, on investing more as society in innovation and technology and on engaging the best and brightest minds to take on these problems.”

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Marketing USA Virtual

Sep 29, 2020 - Sep 30, 2020, VIRTUAL

The Marketing Disruption Summit is the business-critical event that will enable you to harness technology and data to deliver unprecedented digital marketing efficiency and a best-in-class customer experience.

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