• Eli Lilly and Co. will be conducting the first human trials on an antibody treatment for coronavirus from Canadian biotech company AbCellera
  • Trials will be conducted at hospitals in New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta as a double-blind where neither patients or doctors involved will be told if they are receiving a placebo or the antibody treatment
  • The trial's first results are expected to be published at the end of June

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. said Monday that it will begin early-stage human trials on a potential antibody treatment for the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are committed to working with our industry partners to generate scientific evidence to meet the urgent need for treatments that reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease,” NYU Langone Health’s Mark J. Mulligan, MD, said in a press release. “Antibody treatments like the one being studied here hold promise to be effective medical countermeasures against this deadly infection.”

Eli Lilly teamed up in March with Canadian biotech company AbCellera to develop LY-CoV555, using blood samples from one of the first pandemic patients in the U.S.

The antibody treatment is designed to target coronavirus’ spike-shaped proteins and block them from attacking human cells.

It will be administered to coronavirus patients being treated at a medical center in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The trial will be conducted as a “randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase I trial.” Trial patients will either receive the antibody treatment or a placebo, and neither the patients nor their doctors will be told who is receiving what. If safe and successful, trials will be expanded to include patients who haven’t been hospitalized.

Eli Lilly said the first results from the trial are expected to be published at the end of June.

“We are grateful to collaborate with colleagues at AbCellera, NIAID, and the many academic institutions who have helped us reach this milestone in humanity's fight against COVID-19 — a disease first characterized only six months ago,” said Eli Lilly senior vice president and chief scientific officer Dr. Dan Skovronsky.

“We are privileged to help usher in this new era of drug development with the first potential new medicine specifically designed to attack the virus. Antibody therapies such as LY-CoV555 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.”

DR Congo's coronavirus front man Virologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe receives an Ebola vaccine late last year
DR Congo's coronavirus front man Virologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe receives an Ebola vaccine late last year AFP / PAMELA TULIZO