Regeneron Limerick, Raheen, is making major advancements in developing a drug for Covid-19, through the isolation of hundreds of antibodies.
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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