Eli Lilly reports a reduced rate of hospitalization for coronavirus patients using its antibody treatment

 Eli Lilly said Wednesday its antibody-based drug appears to have reduced the rate of hospitalization for coronavirus patients recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

The U.S. drugmaker said it tested three different doses of LY-CoV555 against a placebo in a trial enrolling roughly 450 patients. The middle dose of 2,800 mg met the trial’s target of significantly reducing the presence of SARS-CoV-2 after 11 days.

Other doses of the monoclonal antibody-drug, including the 700 mg dose and the 7,000 mg dose, did not meet that goal.

The announcement comes at a time when many are closely monitoring the development of antibody drugs as a potential bridge to a coronavirus vaccine.

To date, more than 29.5 million people have contracted Covid-19 worldwide, including 935,591 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“These interim data from the BLAZE-1 trial suggest that LY-CoV555, an antibody specifically directed against SARS-CoV-2, has a direct antiviral effect and may reduce COVID-related hospitalizations,” said  Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.

“The results reinforce our conviction that neutralizing antibodies can help in the fight against COVID-19,” Skovronsky said in a statement.

Shares of Eli Lilly rose around 1% in premarket trade after the announcement.

LY-CoV555 belongs to a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies. It is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, thus neutralizing the virus and potentially preventing and treating the coronavirus.

The antibody, developed by Eli Lilly and AbCeller, was identified from a blood sample taken from one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from Covid-19.

Eli Lilly is one of several companies developing antibody drugs, alongside GlaxoSmithKline and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

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