The race to make COVID antibody therapies cheaper and more potent
When US President Donald Trump was ill with COVID-19, his physicians administered a bevy of medications — some proven, others experimental. But there is one that the president has hailed as a “cure”: a cocktail of coronavirus antibodies produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York.
The 'curative' power of this antibody treatment has yet to be proven. Although it has shown promise in small, early studies in people with mild COVID-19 symptoms, large clinical trials have not yet been completed. Meanwhile, researchers are already designing more-advanced antibody treatments that could be cheaper, easier to produce and more potent.
“What you really want is something that is so amazingly potent that you need barely any,” says biochemist Pamela Björkman of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “You want to be able to give it to everybody in the house or the hospital or the school or the meat-packing plant that’s been exposed.”