Regeneron tests COVID-19 antibody cocktail in humans

June 12, 2020

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is testing whether its drug — a combination of two antibodies — can treat COVID-19 patients and possibly even prevent infections.

The REGN-COV2 clinical program will consist of four separate study populations: hospitalized COVID-19 patients, non-hospitalized symptomatic COVID-19 patients, uninfected people in groups that are at high-risk of exposure (such as health care workers or first responders) and uninfected people with close exposure to a COVID-19 patient (such as the patient's housemate).

Regeneron scientists selected the two most potent, non-competing and virus-neutralizing antibodies and have scaled them up for clinical use with the company's in-house VelociMab and manufacturing capabilities. The two antibodies bind non-competitively to the critical receptor binding domain (RBD) of the virus's spike protein, which diminishes the ability of mutant viruses to escape treatment.

The cocktail may even prevent COVID-19 because the antibodies injected would be capable of neutralizing the virus, though the protective effect might require regular dosing, likely every month.

The concept that drug cocktails can prevent viral escape has previously been demonstrated for traditional antiviral drugs used to treat HIV and other viruses. In the upcoming Science publications, Regeneron scientists report the fundamental realization that this can also be true for antibody-based therapies.

This is the first trial of a COVID-19 antibody cocktail in the United States. If successful, Regeneron hopes it could be available for emergency use as early as the fall.

Read the press release