By Joshua Mali, MD – Macular Degeneration Association Medical Director
There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the understanding of COVID-19 allowing the potential of some very promising treatments. Extensive research is still being conducting, however, here a few candidates that I believe deserve some attention.
1) AbbVie’s Candidate
AbbVie, Harbour BioMed (HBM), Utrecht University (UU) and Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) have announced they have entered into a collaboration to develop a novel antibody therapeutic to prevent and treat COVID-19, the pandemic respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The focus of the collaboration is on advancing the fully human, neutralizing antibody 47D11 discovered by UU, EMC and HBM. This antibody targets the conserved domain of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The antibody discovery, published online on May 4 in Nature Communications, targets a conserved region of the virus’ spike protein. In cell culture studies the antibody blocked infection by the SARS-CoV-2 and a second coronavirus SARS-CoV. The antibody is fully human, which is designed to facilitate its development and minimize immune-related side effects.1
2) Regeneron’s REGN-COV2
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has announced the initiation of late-stage clinical trials evaluating REGN-COV2, Regeneron’s investigational double antibody cocktail for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. A Phase 3 trial will evaluate REGN-COV2’s ability to prevent infection among uninfected people who have had close exposure to a COVID-19 patient (such as the patient’s housemate), and is being run jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). REGN-COV2 has also moved into the Phase 2/3 portion of two adaptive Phase 1/2/3 trials testing the cocktail’s ability to treat hospitalized and non-hospitalized (or “ambulatory”) patients with COVID-19.
This clinical progress follows a positive review from the Independent Data Monitoring Committee of REGN-COV2 Phase 1 safety results in an initial cohort of 30 hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The Phase 3 prevention trial is being conducted at approximately 100 sites and is expected to enroll 2,000 patients in the U.S.; the trial will assess SARS-CoV-2 infection status. The two Phase 2/3 treatment trials in hospitalized (estimated enrollment =1,850) and non-hospitalized (estimated enrollment =1,050) patients are planned to be conducted at approximately 150 sites in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Chile, and will evaluate virologic and clinical endpoints, with preliminary data expected later this summer. All trials are adaptively-designed, and the ultimate numbers of patients enrolled will depend on trial progress and insights from Phase 2 studies.2
3) Novavax’s Vaccine
Novavax, Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX), a late stage biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced that it has been selected to participate in Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a U.S. government program that aims to begin delivering millions of doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 in 2021. Novavax has been awarded $1.6 billion by the federal government to complete late-stage clinical development, including a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial; establish large-scale manufacturing; and deliver 100 million doses of NVX‑CoV2373, Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate, as early as late 2020. NVX‑CoV2373 consists of a stable, prefusion protein made using its proprietary nanoparticle technology and includes Novavax’ proprietary Matrix‑M™ adjuvant. A Phase 1/2 clinical trial of NVX-CoV2373 in 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age began in Australia in May. Preliminary immunogenicity and safety results are expected at the end of July, and the Phase 2 portion to assess immunity, safety, and COVID-19 disease reduction is expected to begin thereafter. The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being supported by an up-to $388 million funding arrangement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).3
Financial Disclosures: Consultant & Shareholder (AbbVie), Consultant (Regeneron)