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Eli Lilly launches trial of antibody drug to prevent COVID-19 in nursing homes

A late-stage trial to test whether Eli Lilly’s antibody drug can prevent coronavirus infection in nursing home residents and staff has officially kicked off, the company announced Monday. 

The drug will test whether a drug called LY-CoV555, designed to neutralize the coronavirus’s infectious ‘spike’ protein can keep exposed people from developing the infection. 

Lilly will give the drug to people in long-term care facilities where a case of COViD-19 has recently been identified to see if it can protect staff and other residents at-risk of contracting the highly contagious disease.

Some 40 percent of coronavirus deaths in the US have been linked to nursing, retirement and long-term care facilities, and, short of a vaccine, finding treatments that could  save the live of countless elderly Americans and their caretakers.  

The company expects to know whether the preventive treatment is working sometime between October and the end of the year.  

The phase 3 trial will test LY-CoV555, a treatment developed in partnership with Canadian biotech AbCellera, is expected to enroll up to 2,400 participants who live or work at a facility that have had a recently diagnosed case of COVID-19.

‘COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on nursing home residents,’ Lilly’s chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky said in a statement. ‘We´re working as fast as we can to create medicines that might stop the spread of the virus to these vulnerable individuals.’

Lilly is already testing the drug in hospitals to study whether it can work as a treatment in patients who have the disease. This trial will test whether it works prophylactically.

It is launching the phase 3 trial in partnership with several long-term care facility networks across the country as well as the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Lilly said in order to speed the study it has created mobile research units including retrofitted recreational vehicles that can be deployed in response to outbreaks of the virus at nursing homes across the U.S.

LY-CoV555 belongs to a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies that are among the most widely used biotechnology medicines. 

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and other drugmakers are testing similar treatments against COVID-19.

Regeneron’s is designed to be an antibody ‘cocktail’ incorporating  

Last week Lilly told investors that LY-CoV555 had moved into mid-stage trials as a treatment and would start late stage-trials in the coming weeks. It expects efficacy data from the mid-stage trial in the fourth quarter. 

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