Celltrion said Monday that it has succeeded in securing the final antibody candidate group through a neutralization ability test conducted to develop antibody therapeutics for the new coronavirus.
In collaboration with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) since April 2, Celltrion conducted the first and second tests of neutralizing ability on 106 antibodies that showed satisfactory antigen-binding ability among the first 300 candidate antibodies obtained.
It then confirmed neutralizing ability from 38 antibodies and selected them as the final antibody candidates. Notably, 14 among them showed strong neutralizing ability, raising the expectation for the successful development of the COVID-19 treatment, the company said.
Celltrion, which was selected as a company to carry out the national project named the “Finding New Coronavirus Antibody Candidates for 2019,” has been going all out to develop COVID-19 treatment in cooperation with the KCDC, it added.
|A Celltrion researcher with protective gear conducts a test at an in-house laboratory.|
Verification of the neutralization ability, jointly carried out with the KCDC, is a test method that examines the degree of survival of a host cell by the antibody after infecting the host cell with the virus, a necessary procedure for developing antibody therapeutics.
When the development of the cell strain is completed, the company will begin to mass-produce human clinical substances and simultaneously conduct an efficacy test on mice, and later a toxicity test on primates.
Celltrion also plans to establish a production cell strain of candidate antibodies with strong neutralizing ability while closely observing the mutation of the COVID-19 virus, it said.
As the research proceeds smoothly, Celltrion expects there will be progress not only in the production of clinical materials for the development of therapeutic agents but also in the development of diagnostic kits.
Celltrion will develop a prototype of a diagnostic kit with a specialized company by the end of this month and complete clinical trials within May to gain certification from Europe, Korea and the U.S.
Celltrion said it is mobilizing all available human resources, including clinical and production personnel, as well as researchers, and is focusing on conducting a human clinical trial for the antibody candidates in July.
Celltrion said that while many multinational pharmaceuticals are trying to develop COVID-19 treatments, the company believes that it has made the most progress in the area of antibody therapies.
“We are speeding up the development of COVID-19 treatment through active collaboration with related government agencies,” a Celltrion official said. “As CEO Seo Jung-jin said in a recent news conference, this company believes it has the responsibility to prioritize the public value over commercial one and provide treatment to wipe out COVID-19.”
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