Regeneron’s coronavirus drug could be ready for human trials by early summer

Biotech behemoth Regeneron is gearing up to have a potential “cocktail” drug — to both prevent and treat the novel coronavirus — ready for human clinical trials by early this summer.

In a Tuesday statement, the company said it plans to initiate large-scale manufacturing of the drug by the middle of next month — in an effort to produce hundreds of thousands of doses per month by the end of the summer.

“There are always so many moving parts, but … we’re hitting our best numbers, our best timelines, and things are going really well,” Dr. George Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s co-founder, told CNBC.

Regeneron scientists are developing the therapy the same way they generated a treatment for Ebola, which is now under review by the FDA.

They are using mice genetically engineered to have human-like immune systems — and then exposing them to a target protein that enables them to generate human antibodies. The company has also isolated antibodies from humans who have recovered from COVID-19, officials said.

Regeneron will select the top two antibodies to form the “cocktail” treatment.

Health experts, including former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said the method could prove an effective tool to battle COVID-19 in the fall — when the bug might re-emerge even if it tapers off during the summer, according to CNBC.

The two-in-one treatment and protection drug lies somewhere between the vaccine projects underway at companies like Moderna — and the search for effective medications, including at Gilead Sciences.

“For every hundred people you ‘prophylax,’ you can probably treat like five or 10 people,” Yancopoulos told the network.

The first people likely to receive the preventive drug are health care workers and other high-risk groups, he said.

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