Junshi Begins Human Testing in Covid-19 Antibody Trials With Eli Lilly
A month after Shanghai-based Junshi Biosciences (HKEX: 1877) and Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) announced they teamed up on the development of Covid-19 antibodies; the two have begun testing in humans.
Junshi said in a statement over the weekend that the first patient has been dosed in a Phase 1 study of JS016 – the first antibody targeting Covid-19 to enter clinical trials in China. The volunteers in the "randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study" are healthy. The trial is evaluating the drug's safety and the ability to provoke an immune response, according to a company statement.
Lilly is expected to soon begin testing Junshi's antibody in the United States. Last week, it launched Phase 1 clinical testing in humans of its antibody LY-CoV555, developed in partnership with private Canadian biotech AbCellera.
Thus, Indianapolis-based Lilly, which does not specialize in infectious disease treatment but is rather known for insulin and psychiatric medications, has sprinted past some of its peers. Regeneron (Nasdaq: REGN) is planning to launch human trials of its Covid-19 antibody cocktail this month and Sorrento Therapeutics (Nasdaq: SRNE) has yet to move past in vitro trials.
Earlier, antiviral drug remdesivir, developed by Gilead (Nasdaq: GILD), raised hopes as its trials showed some early promising results. A number of biopharma companies, including Novavax Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX), CanSino Biologics Inc. (HKEX: 6185), Moderna Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA), and AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN), have reached human testing with their experimental vaccines.
While some of the above companies have projected to deliver first doses in August and September, antibody treatment may be developed sooner than a vaccine, according to Biopharma Dive.
In Junshi's statement today, Professor Zhang Wenhong from Huashan Hospital, head researcher of the clinical study, said, "Neutralizing antibodies can precisely target the SARS-CoV-2 virus which may quickly prevent the virus from replicating in the human body. We hope to demonstrate the safety and tolerability of JS016 in Phase I and provide supporting data for additional clinical trials."