Takeda Pharmaceutical Company said it has started developing TAK-888, a plasma-derived drug, to treat high-risk patients with severe acute viral respiratory infections tied to the new coronavirus.
At the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Takeda announced that it would initiate the development of polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) against the COVID-19 virus and named the investigational drug as TAK-888.
H-IGs are plasma derived-therapies that have previously worked to treat severe acute viral respiratory infections. They are considered as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
H-IGs are created by concentrating the pathogen-specific antibodies from plasma of patients who recovered from COVID-19. By injecting these antibodies to a new confirmed patient, physicians can induce the patient’s immune response and raise the chance of recovery.
The recent COVID-19 treatment guidelines by the Chinese authorities also include the use of plasma from recovered patients to fight COVID-19.
Medial workers in Wuhan, the center of the COVID-19 outbreak, urged recovered residents to donate their plasma to help treat other infected patients.
To develop TAK-888, the company has to receive plasma from recovered patients or people who get vaccinated in the future.
Takeda said it was discussing with health authorities around the world, including the U.S., Asia and Europe, to accelerate research on the experimental drug.
The manufacturing of TAK-888 will take place in an isolated area in Georgia, the U.S., and Takeda will strive to research and develop TAK-888 with more than 75 years of experience in the development of plasma-derived products, the company said.
“Plasma-derived therapies are critical, life-saving medicines that thousands of people with rare and complex diseases rely on every day around the world,” said Dr. Chris Morabito, Takeda’s Head of Research and Development, Plasma-Derived Therapies Business Unit.
“Our heritage, combined with our scale, expertise, and capabilities, uniquely position Takeda to realize the potential of plasma-derived therapies, such as TAK-888.”
Takeda said it was also investigating whether marketed therapies and molecules in its drug library could be viable candidates for COVID-19 treatment.
“These efforts are at an early stage but being given a high priority within the company,” it said.
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