• May 4, 2021

    BSWRI opens variant-focused monoclonal antibody trial with Eli Lilly

BSWRI’s most recent COVID-19 research endeavor was featured in an exclusive story published by the Dallas Morning News as well as a number of other local and national outlets. The trial examines a new monoclonal antibody, produced by Eli Lilly and AbCellera Biologics, which has been shown to neutralize all known variants of concern in early lab tests.

Researchers at BSWRI will compare the efficacy of a single antibody to a combination of three that includes a new monoclonal antibody candidate called LY-CoV140. Initial testing has shown that LY-CoV1404 neutralized all known variants of concern, including variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, California and New York.

As reported by the Dallas Morning News, “It [attaches to] the virus in a way that allows it to stop every variant that we have currently seen globally,” said AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen. In the interview he also noted that LY-CoV1404 appears to be capable of neutralizing the so-called double mutant strain found in India.

The trial is open to individuals ages 18 to 64 who have received a COVID-19 diagnosis within the past three days and are not hospitalized. Those 65 and older or at high risk of severe disease may be eligible for the next step of the trial that is expected to open soon. The study is currently open at multiple BSW locations and individuals interested in learning more or being screened can contact the research team at PYAH@BSWHealth.org.

The trial design will also aim to assess if the monoclonal antibody treatment, may be potent enough for patients to require a smaller dose. If that level of efficacy is reinforced by the trial data, it could open up the possibility of doctors giving it as a shot instead of an IV infusion, which not only carries a lengthier treatment time but is often harder to access for many patients.

In March, the FDA reported that Eli Lilly’s current two-antibody combination would likely not work against variants from South Africa or Brazil. What few knew at the time was that Eli Lilly’s partner AbCellera had already begun screening blood samples from recovered COVID-19 patients in January specifically looking for a compound that would work against the emerging variants. The antibody scientists found attaches to a part of the virus’ spike protein that does not appear to have changed since the start of the pandemic.

The U.K. variant is now the dominant source of new infections in the U.S. And all the variants of concern have been found in Texas.

Dr. Robert Gottlieb, the PI overseeing these trials through BSWRI said he believes monoclonal antibodies hold great potential against COVID-19, including variants that arise.

“There is now an empowering message that if you have risk factors, we have evidence-based, proven therapies that are game-changing, quite frankly,” he said. “And if someone doesn’t have those risk factors, then trials like this can be ways to potentially contribute to their own health as well as the health of the world in the future. This is a different era than it was a year ago.”

The full story can be found on DallasNews.com.