Eli Lilly said Monday that its partner Junshi Biosciences dosed the first healthy volunteer in a Phase I study of the investigational neutralising antibody JS016 for the treatment of COVID-19. Junshi is leading development of the drug in China, while Eli Lilly plans to begin dosing patients in a Phase I trial in the US in the coming days.
The companies announced last month an agreement to co-develop therapeutic antibodies for the potential prevention and treatment of COVID-19, with the deal including Junshi's lead asset JS016. The recombinant fully human monoclonal neutralising antibody specifically binds to the SARS-CoV-2 surface spike protein receptor binding domain and can block the binding of viruses to the ACE2 host cell surface receptor. Junshi retains all rights to JS016 in China, with Eli Lilly holding rights in all other markets.
Two neutralising antibodies in clinic
This is Eli Lilly's second neutralising antibody to start clinical trials, following LY-CoV555, which recently entered a Phase I study in hospitalised COVID-19 patients. The US drugmaker indicated that it will evaluate JS016 as both a single agent and in combination with other antibody treatments in COVID-19 patients.
"There is much we still don't know about COVID-19," remarked Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's chief scientific officer, adding "the best path to learn more about the potential for neutralising antibodies, either as monotherapy or in combination, is through carefully controlled randomised trials."
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