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

LONDON — Eli Lilly announced Wednesday it had found proof of concept data from an interim analysis of a clinical trial that showed a reduced rate of hospitalization for coronavirus patients treated with its neutralizing antibody drug.

The U.S. drugmaker said the experimental treatment had helped patients recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate symptoms of Covid-19 rid their systems of the virus sooner, potentially preventing them from hospitalization.

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 antibody drug, including the 700 mg dose and the 7,000 mg dose, did not meet that goal.

“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,” Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories, said in a statement.

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

Shares of Eli Lilly rose around 2.6% in pre-market trade shortly 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 as a potential bridge to a coronavirus vaccine, alongside GlaxoSmithKline and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.  

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

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