WASHINGTON, DC – The United States has announced that it will work with the drug company Regeneron to develop an effective treatment for the new Chinese coronavirus, using drugs that have been tested to fight the Ebola virus.
Many different therapies are currently being tested for the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), three of which are at an advanced stage: a drug administered to HIV carriers (Kaletra), a combination of drugs used for the coronavirus MERS (antivirals and immunotherapy) and a U.S. company Gilead antivirus that had been previously tested for Ebola virus.
The partnership between the U.S. government and Regeneron concerns a treatment based on monoclonal antibodies. "A public-private partnership, like the one we have with Regeneron since 2014, allows us to respond quickly to new global health threats," said Rick Bright, a U.S. health official.
Monoclonal antibodies are copies of one type of antibody prepared in the laboratory. They are a kind of immunotherapy. They attach to certain proteins of the virus and neutralize its ability to invade human cells.
Regeneron has created the cocktail REGN-EB3, which consists of three monoclonal antibodies and last year significantly improved the survival rate of patients infected with Ebola virus in the Congo. The company has also developed a treatment for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
"The convincing results of our experimental treatment for Ebola last year showed Regeneron's ability to respond quickly to new outbreaks," explained Greek-American Dr. George Yancopoulos, Regeneron's President and chief scientific officer.
The cure for the new coronavirus may eventually include many types of medication.
The coronavirus epidemic is likely to have an impact on U.S. supply chains, but the consequences are unlikely to be disastrous, White House financial adviser Larry Cadlow said in an interview with Fox Business, ANA-MPA reported.
"It's not a disaster," Cadlow said, adding that "we've had it in the past and I just think the impact is minimal," ANA-MPA reported.
The American-born Dr. Yancopoulos, one of the nation’s leading scientists and head of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, grew up in Woodside, Queens. He was the valedictorian of both the Bronx High School of Science and Columbia University, and received his MD and PhD degrees in 1987 from Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. Yancopoulos worked in the field of molecular immunology at Columbia University with Dr. Fred Alt, and received the Lucille P. Markey Scholar Award for his efforts. In 1989, he left his academic career and became the founding scientist for Regeneron with Leonard Schleifer. Among his honors, Yancopoulos was awarded Columbia University's Stevens Triennial Prize for Research and its University Medal of Excellence for Distinguished Achievement. In 2004, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.