On Tuesday, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly revealed that its experimental antibody treatment, called LY-CoV555, was found to reduce the rate of hospitalizations among COVID-19 patients. The novel treatment consists of a monoclonal antibody, a naturally produced one from the immune system that has been transformed to be more effective.
LY-CoV555 comes from an antibody that stops the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from infecting cells found in COVID-19 patients and it is already in Phase III trials. The Phase III trial, named BLAZE-1, is seeking to test the LY-CoV555 ’s safety and ideal dose.
The trial will recruit in total 800 participants that will have been placed in one of four groups: one receiving a placebo, and the other three receiving varying doses of LY-CoV555. So far, the company has found that those given the treatment were less likely to be hospitalized: 1.7% of LY-CoV555 patients compared to 6% on placebo. The treatment also seemed to have no serious side effects.
"These interim data from the BLAZE-1 trial suggest that LY-CoV555, an antibody specifically directed against SARS-CoV-2, has a direct antiviral effect and may reduce COVID-related hospitalizations," said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. "The results reinforce our conviction that neutralizing antibodies can help in the fight against COVID-19," he continued.
It should be noted that the team has yet to publish their results although they did claim in their press release that they plan to do so. In the meantime, there are some suspicious quirks regarding the treatment.
Only the group that received the medium dose of LY-CoV555 saw the primary goal of the trial met. This does not immediately indicate that the treatment does not work but it is possible to attribute its positive results to chance rather than the treatment's effectiveness. Time and more trials will eventually tell how LY-CoV555 truly performs.