Italian Biotech Leader Hopes to Be Ready With Plasma-based Treatment for COVID-19 by Late Summer of 2020

LUCCA, Italy, April 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Kedrion Biopharma, a leading Italian biotech company, on Tuesday announced that it has started the development of a plasma-derived therapy for treating the COVID-19 virus that could make it available to patients in as little as three to six months. 

Alessandro Gringeri, Chief Medical and R&D Officer of Kedrion Biopharma, said the company, the world's fifth largest in plasma products, has been pouring investment and research resources into the effort, and expects to collect plasma from convalescent patients in the next 30 days. Kedrion is working in close collaboration with hospitals from some of the most hard-hit regions of Italy.

"What we will do," Gringeri explained, "is to use plasma from about 100 patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in order to develop a dosage that can be injected through either intravenous or intramuscular means. We will generate a plasma-derived immunoglobulin therapy that can be administered to either patients who are suffering from COVID-19 or to health care workers to provide temporary passive immunization."

Dr. Gringeri said that a passive immunization like this might have a very high efficacy rate, as has been the case for treatments used for many other infectious diseases over the last half century. In China, where the virus first struck, hospitals have been administering pure plasma, whereas the Italian prototype is a plasma derivative which could be especially effective in treating patients in critical condition.

Kedrion is the world's fifth biggest plasma company and is described by analysts as being more nimble and agile, meaning that its efforts to create an effective therapy for COVID-19 patients may move quite rapidly. The Italian biotech company could therefore become one of the first that is able to make this product available to patients in need. 

"We can become the first mover because the process that we plan to use is based on smaller volumes of plasma, thanks to an innovative technological process - rather than the classical method, known in the industry as 'fractionation' - which normally would require thousands of liters to be utilized," said Dr. Gringeri. "Thanks to our cooperation with hospitals in both the North and South of Italy, we are going to be able to assess the efficacy of antibodies from convalescent plasma so as to better integrate them into the finished hyperimmune immunoglobulin product."

Paolo Marcucci, chairman and CEO Kedrion, said the speed with which the company hoped to bring the treatment to both U.S. and European markets was due to intensive cooperation with public institutions and university hospitals in both Italy and the United States.

"There is great merit in having a national health service that works in lockstep with private sector innovation, and that may be why we hope to be the first mover in the global market," said Marcucci. "Our top priority is getting this therapy to patients as quickly as possible," he noted, adding that Kedrion is already in contact with the Italian health authorities. The company also plans to soon be in contact with both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicine Agency in order to seek an accelerated timetable aimed at getting the therapy to patients around the world as soon as possible.

SOURCE Kedrion Biopharma

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