Eli Lilly gives patients first doses in trial of new coronavirus treatment

Eli Lilly gives patients first doses in trial of new coronavirus treatment
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The drug company Eli Lilly announced Monday that it has administered the first doses of a possible new treatment for coronavirus patients as it begins a phase one clinical trial. 

The treatment uses an antibody that the body produces to fight coronavirus. The potential new treatment was developed using a blood sample from one of the first U.S. patients to recover from coronavirus. 

Antibody treatments hold promise as effective treatments, and are developed specifically to fight coronavirus, unlike the drug remdesivir, which already existed and was repurposed to fight coronavirus. Remdesivir has been shown to produce moderate but not extreme improvement in patients.

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Eli Lilly said it should know results from the phase one trial, which tests for safety, by the end of June, and hopes to have “several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year.”

Two other companies, Regeneron and Vir Biotechnology, are also working on antibody treatments but have not yet begun clinical trials. 

“At the same time as we are investigating safety and efficacy, we also are starting large-scale manufacturing of this potential therapy,” Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement. “If [the antibody treatment] 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.”

The company said it also plans to test whether the drug could work to prevent coronavirus, in addition to treating it.