Regeneron Limerick, Raheen, is making major advancements in developing a drug for Covid-19, through the isolation of hundreds of antibodies.
Update: Regeneron expand trials for the drug Kezvara as a Covid-19 Treatment
Limerick biomedical company Regeneron has expanded trials of its arthritis drug Kezvara across seven countries, as part of a global clinical program to assess the drug as a treatment for Covid-19.
The Kevzara drug is an antibody that works by inhibiting the pathway of the interleukin-6 (IL6), a type of protein, which possibly plays a role in driving the immune response that leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome.
In a partnership with French drug company Sanofi, Regeneron has begun treating the first patient outside of the US with this drug, with the aim of evaluating the impact it has on the patient’s fever, and their need for supplemental oxygen. Assessments of the drug are taking place in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Canada, Russia and the United States, where the firm’s global headquarters is.
Other effects that the drug may have, including prevention of death and reduction in the need for ventilation, supplemental oxygen, and hospitalisation will also be monitored.
Regeneron is to begin human trials of a new Covid-19 treatment by early summer, as they aim to have small quantities of it available for clinical testing, and to produce hundreds of thousands of doses per month by the end of summer.
The President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, George D. Yancopoulos Co-founder, said, “Data from a single-arm study in China suggest that the interleukin-6 pathway may play an important role in the overactive inflammatory response in the lungs of patients with COVID-19. Despite this encouraging finding, it’s imperative to conduct a properly designed, randomized trial to understand the true impact of Kevzara, which we are now doing through this global clinical trial program.”
The trial outside of the United States will assess the safety and efficacy of adding a single intravenous dose of Kevzara to usual supportive care, compared to supportive care plus placebo. The trial has an adaptive design with two parts and is anticipated to enroll approximately 300 patients. It will recruit hospitalised patients from several countries who are severely or critically ill with Covid-19 infection.
John Reed, Sanofi’s global head of research and development added: “Sanofi and Regeneron are relentlessly working to rapidly initiate trials around the world that will help determine whether Kevzara has the potential to play a role in addressing the Covid-19 disease global health crisis. These trials will provide important data to determine whether Kevzara ameliorates the life-threatening complications of Covid-19 infections by counteracting the overactive inflammatory immune responses in the lungs when damaged by the virus.”
Regeneron Limerick are making ground-breaking advancements in tackling Covid-19
By I Love Limerick Correspondent Mary Doyle
The Limerick-based biomedical company Regeneron has made major developments in the realms of establishing a treatment for the novel Coronavirus, which in the last month has been declared a global pandemic and has posed a major threat to Ireland’s healthcare system.
Covid-19, we know, is a highly contagious virus that causes flu-like symptoms which, in most cases, are mild, but to at-risk groups such as the elderly, the virus can lead to critical illness and sometimes death. With over 8000 people having already died as a result of contracting this virus, including two in Ireland, and over 200,000 cases confirmed worldwide, Regeneron scientists are using their medical expertise to make major developments with regards to Covid-19.
Regeneron, which has its Irish headquarters in Raheen, employs over 1000 people in Limerick alone. The company oversees extremely valuable research using their homegrown technologies, to discover, develop, and deliver new medicines that help people with serious diseases, and the Coronavirus will be no exception.
The company has brought its schedule testing forward as a result of the urgency surrounding the rapid spread of the virus, with their aim to have doses of a potential drug to combat Covid-19 ready to begin human clinical trials by early summer. Their method involves developing antibodies to the virus which can treat and prevent the disease, similar to the approach used in the development of drugs that combat the Ebola virus.
This involves exposing mice, which have been genetically altered to have human-like immune systems, to proteins of the virus so that they can create antibodies. They have also used Covid-19 recoveries to their advantage, isolating the antibodies of humans who have recovered from the flu-like disease, in hopes to maximise the possibility of finding useful antibodies.
After identifying hundreds of antibodies, the top two will be selected to be involved in a ‘cocktail’ treatment, which will be based on binding ability and effectiveness, along with many other vital factors. This will be done to ensure efficacy isn’t lost if there is a mutation in the virus.
Regeneron’s SARS-CoV-2 antibodies will target the spike protein on the surface of the virus, in order to block its interaction with the host cell, and thus neutralise the virus.
Co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, George D Yancopoulos, said, “Given the tremendous interest and concern around the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be providing regular and transparent updates on our discovery and development programs. I want to recognise our incredible team, which is working around the clock to develop needed solutions to this global health crisis.”
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