The company Distributed Bio is three to four weeks away from engineering an antibody treatment to combat the novel coronavirus that can be ready to be administered to patients by the fall, Dr. Jacob Glanville, the co-founder and CEO of the business, proclaimed this week.
What my company is doing is adapting antibodies to recognize and neutralize the novel coronavirus. So this would … [be] sort of skipping what a vaccine does. Instead of giving you a vaccine and waiting for it to produce an immune response, we just give you those antibodies right away. And so within about 20 minutes, that patient has the ability to neutralize the virus.
We’re making an antibody [therapy] that can be tried in humans in the summer. … That sets us up by September to be able to use something called compassionate use, which is to say, if it works well in the summer, we can start handing it out to hundreds of thousands of people who need it by the fall.
Dr. Glanville noted that the U.S. military would conduct a human study of his company’s antibody treatment this summer before doctors hand medicine out to patients.
The completed drug is going to go to the USAMRIID [United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases]. So that’s the U.S. military, and they’re going to be testing it for its ability to neutralize the virus.
At the same time, that drug is going to go to Charles River Laboratories, which is an international contract research group, which is going to test the safety of that drug. Both of those pieces of information come together so that we can produce batches, go through some red tape, and then do the first human studies that we’ll do on 200 to 600 people in the summer, probably in July.
Glanville said that while “social distancing” is working to stem the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19, medicine is needed to contain the disease further.
This week, U.S. President Donald Trump touted the “right to try” bill he signed into law in late May. The legislation cuts regulations hindering compassionate use, which allows doctors to give experimental drugs to seriously ill patients if other treatments are unavailable.
Trump noted that his administration continues to “slash red tape” to distribute unapproved coronavirus therapies and vaccines to patients faster and identify effective drugs.
According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a coronavirus vaccine is at least 12 months away.
The White House has acknowledged that the medical community is working on developing non-vaccine treatments in the next few months to combat coronavirus.
Some experimental drugs have already yielded promising results. Without a vaccine or treatment, the coronavirus outbreak could last 18 months or more in the United States, the Trump administration has determined.