The company said patients have been dosed in a first-stage safety trial for the potential antibody treatment "LY-CoV555," which has emerged from a collaboration between Lilly and Canadian biotech AbCellera to create antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
The antibody was identified three months ago by AbCellera and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which isolated it in a blood sample from one of the first U.S. patients to recover from the coronavirus disease.
"Antibody treatments like the one being studied here hold promise to be effective medical countermeasures against this deadly infection," Dr. Mark Mulligan of NYU Langone Health Center said in a statement.
"[The therapies] may have potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and may be particularly important for groups hardest hit by the disease such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems," added Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.
Skovronsky said the results of the trial should be available by the end of this month, after which broader efficacy trials will begin.
Lilly said it's scaling up manufacturing capabilities should the treatment prove effective in the near term.
The goal, Skovronsky said, is having several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year.
The antibody treatment is the first to enter clinical trials. Others in development include an "antibody cocktail" by Regeneron and two candidates from Vir Biotechnology in collaboration with GSK.