World’s first human tests of COVID-19 antibody treatment have Vancouver connection

The federal government has earmarked $175 million for Vancouver-based AbCellera in its fight against COVID-19 | B.C. Centre for Disease Control

What happened: Eli Lilly has commenced studies on humans for potential COVID-19 therapy

Why it matters: The tests come after collaboration with a Vancouver bio-technology company

American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY) confirmed Monday (June 1) human patients have been dosed in the world’s first study of a potential antibody treatment against COVID-19.

The treatment known as LY-CoV555 was developed as part of a collaboration between Lilly and Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics Inc.

The federal government has earmarked $175 million for AbCellera as it pursues the quick development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.

AbCellera and Lilly announced in April a partnership to develop a new drug for the treatment and prevention of the COVID-19 virus, with Lilly tapping the Vancouver biotech’s platform to zero in on antibodies generated in a natural immune response to the coronavirus.

The goal is to develop a new drug to treat people who have become infected with the virus.

The LY-CoV555 antibody treatment was developed over three months with co-operation from Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after the organizations identified it from a blood sample taken from one of the first U.S. patients to recover from the coronavirus. 

LY-CoV555 is the first potential new medicine specifically designed to combat the virus that causes COVID-19.

The first patients were dosed at medical centres in the U.S., including the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai.

Lilly plans to review the result of the study later in June and follow up with larger trials, while also starting large-scale manufacturing of the potential therapy.

“If LY-CoV555 becomes part of the near-term solution for COVID-19, we want to be ready to deliver it to patients as quickly as possible, with the goal of having several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year," Lilly chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky said in a statement.