Eli Lilly and Company, Vir Biotechnology, Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline plc announced a collaboration to evaluate a combination of two COVID-19 therapies in low-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Lilly has expanded its ongoing BLAZE-4 trial to evaluate the administration of bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) 700mg with VIR-7831 (also known as GSK4182136) 500mg, two neutralizing antibodies that bind to different epitopes of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This unique collaboration marks the first time that monoclonal antibodies from separate companies will be brought together to explore potential outcomes.
Bamlanivimab is a neutralizing antibody directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, thus neutralizing the virus. Bamlanivimab emerged from the collaboration between Lilly and AbCellera to create antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Bamlanivimab is authorized for emergency use for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.
VIR-7831 is a dual-action monoclonal antibody that was selected for clinical development based on its potential to both block viral entry into healthy cells and clear infected cells, as well as its potential to provide a high barrier to resistance. In pre-clinical trials, the antibody has shown the ability to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 live virus by binding to an epitope on SARS-CoV-2 shared with SARS-CoV-1, indicating that the epitope is highly conserved, which may make it more difficult for escape mutants to develop. Vir and GSK are advancing VIR-7831 as part of their collaboration to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
“Bamlanivimab is a potent antibody – with data from multiple Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, which have demonstrated robust evidence for both treating and preventing COVID-19,” said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. “With a virus like SARS-CoV-2, it’s expected that variants cou
ld emerge that require new therapeutic options, which is why Lilly is studying bamlanivimab together with other neutralizing antibodies, including etesevimab. Adding VIR-7831 to our study is an important part of our commitment to develop therapies to treat current and future strains of COVID-19 until vaccines are widely available and utilized.”
“We believe that VIR-7831 has significant potential as a single agent, and we are optimistic about the pending interim data from two Phase 3 trials evaluating its potential for early treatment and in hospitalized patients,” said George Scangos, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Vir. “As the virus continues to evolve, we, along with Lilly and GSK, share the view that we should pursue all possibilities to help end the pandemic and maximize the number of lives that can be saved. This trial is a first step to assess whether the administration of VIR-7831, with its high barrier to resistance and potent effector function, alongside bamlanivimab, which has strong outcomes data in early treatment, can provide potential benefits beyond monotherapy.”
“Despite the significant progress on vaccines, there remains an urgent patient need for multiple therapeutic approaches to help prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19,” said Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president R&D of GSK. “Partnering with Lilly to study VIR-7831 with bamlanivimab will provide the scientific community with further data on the important role these therapies could play in reducing the impact of this devastating pandemic.”
Bamlanivimab alone has been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on interim data from the Phase 2 BLAZE-1 trial, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. These data show the therapy may help patients clear the virus and reduce COVID-19-related hospitalizations when given early in the disease course. The safety and efficacy of bamlanivimab is being evaluated with other neutralizing antibodies to provide a possible safeguard against potential viral resistance.
VIR-7831 is an investigational compound, not approved by the U.S. FDA or any other regulatory authority. VIR-7831 is also being evaluated in the global Phase 2/3 COMET-ICE (COVID-19 Monoclonal antibody Efficacy Trial – Intent to Care Early) trial for the early treatment of COVID-19 in adults at high risk of hospitalization.
About Eli Lilly and Company?
Lilly is a global health care leader that unites caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism.
About Vir Biotechnology
Vir Biotechnology is a clinical-stage immunology company focused on combining immunologic insights with cutting-edge technologies to treat and prevent serious infectious diseases. Vir has assembled four technology platforms that are designed to stimulate and enhance the immune system by exploiting critical observations of natural immune processes. Its current development pipeline consists of product candidates targeting hepatitis B virus, influenza A, SARS-CoV-2, human immunodeficiency virus and tuberculosis.