Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has expanded its collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop antibody treatments for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Recently declared as a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), novel coronavirus had originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Regeneron is said to have multiple collaborations with HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Included in them is a partnership to advance REGN-EB3, an investigational Ebola treatment, which had generated positive clinical data last year.
In October 2017, HHS and Regeneron announced a partnership on developing a portfolio of treatments for pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases.
The agreement signed by the parties in 2017 covers discovery, research, development, and manufacturing of antibodies that will target up to 10 pathogens that pose a major risk to public health. The list now includes the Influenza virus and also novel coronavirus, said Regeneron.
The company said that the expanded collaboration will make use of its VelociSuite technologies. Included in these is the VelocImmune platform which is said to use a genetically-engineered mouse with a humanised immune system that can be challenged with all or parts of a virus of choice.
Regeneron claimed that the VelocImmune platform helps in enabling quick identification, preclinical validation, and development of potential antibody candidates.
The company further claimed that the VelociSuite technologies are appropriate, in particular, for use in quickly-developing outbreak situations, as was the case with Ebola.
Regeneron president and chief scientific officer George Yancopoulos said: “Our unique suite of technologies expedites and improves the drug discovery and development process at every stage, positioning Regeneron to respond quickly and effectively to new pathogens.
“We are eager to expand our productive collaboration with BARDA and are already working hard to address the novel coronavirus that is causing worldwide concern.”
The company has been collaborating with HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) using an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). The agreement facilitates funding for promoting innovation in technology to be used for advanced research and development of medical products to be used during a public health emergency.