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Regeneron Up on Identification of Antibodies for Coronavirus

Zacks Equity Research

Shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN are up 11.54% after it announced that it has identified antibodies, which can possibly treat COVID-19.

The company is developing a novel multi-antibody cocktail that can be administered as prophylaxis before exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or as a treatment for those already infected.

Regeneron has now isolated hundreds of virus-neutralizing, fully-human antibodies from its VelocImmune mice, which have been genetically-modified to have a human immune system. The company has also isolated antibodies from humans who have recovered from COVID-19 to maximize the pool of potent antibodies.

The company plans to select the top two antibodies for a 'cocktail' treatment based on potency and binding ability to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as well as other desirable qualities.

A positive outcome will be a great boost for Regeneron and is much needed, given the widespread outbreak.

Regeneron is producing hundreds of thousands of prophylactic doses per month and hopes to have smaller quantities available for initial clinical testing at the beginning of the summer.

Regeneron previously used these technologies to rapidly develop a successful treatment for the Ebola virus infection. This treatment is currently under review in the United States.

Earlier, Regeneron and partner Sanofi announced a program to evaluate their rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug, Kevzara, to treat patients hospitalized with severe infection due to COVID-19.

Regeneron has been in the spotlight since last month as it is one of the frontrunners in the race to develop treatments to combat this deadly virus  Its shares have gained 31% this year so far against the industry’s decline of 12.6%.

 

Last week, The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic, given the alarming levels of spread and severity.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for the same. While big companies like AbbVie are working with health authorities to evaluate the efficacy of drugs in hand, developing a cure for this disease has become a race against time. Given the widespread outbreak, the spotlight is particularly on companies, which are developing treatments/vaccines for the same.

The company pioneering the race is Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD, which has initiated two phase III studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in adults diagnosed with COVID-19. These randomized, open-label, multicenter studies will enroll approximately 1,000 patients at medical centers primarily across Asian countries. The studies will assess two dosing durations of the candidate, administered intravenously. Reportedly, remdesivir is already being used in the United States for the treatment of the disease under federal rules that allow the use of unapproved drugs on compassionate grounds.

Apart from these two biotechs bigwigs, smaller biotechs, like Vir Biotechnology, Inc. VIR, are also developing treatments to fight this pandemic. Vir Biotechnology recently signed a letter of intent with biotech bigwig, Biogen Inc. BIIB, for the development and clinical manufacturing of human monoclonal antibodies for the potential treatment of COVID-19.

Regeneron currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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