As the globe continues to get to grips with the pandemic, a new Chinese antibody therapy for Covid-19 is showing promise.
The experimental treatment has been greenlit for 14 patients in a Beijing hospital. Early results of the breakthrough method indicated a significant reduction in the viral load of patients, encouraging the scientific community.
A “full-spectrum” antibody effective against all Covid-19 variants was discovered by prominent Chinese genomicist, Sunney Xie Xiaoling and his team, as per a press conference held earlier this month.
The antibody, isolated from the plasma of 60 recovering patients, is delivered intravenously and causes a dramatic reduction in viral loads as well as the easing of common symptoms such as the loss of taste and smell and the shortness of breath.
Unlike standard treatments that combine two or more antibodies to prevent variant creation, the DXP-604 antibody can take on mutations as a single antibody, lowering costs by as much as a third, according to Science and Technology Daily.
Xie, a renowned researcher in the field of single-cell genomics and the joint winner of the 2015 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, said he and his colleagues were working on cutting the dosage in half while maintaining potency, potentially slashing prices further.
Monoclonal therapies for Covid-19 can cost as much as $2 000 in some parts of the United States, in part because the antibodies required to fight infection can take months to isolate in the development phase and also significant resources and nutrients to produce at scale.
According to Pamela Bjorkman, a biochemist working out of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, an ideal antibody therapy candidate would be “amazingly potent” in minuscule doses.
Singlomics Biopharmaceuticals, of which Xie is co-founder, signed a deal with Hong Kong-based, BeiGene, to produce the DXP-604 antibody for overseas markets, according to the South China Morning Post.
There is no timeline on a potential introduction internationally but it is worth noting that the trial is still in its relative infancy. Phase two trials are underway in China, while Science and Technology Daily reported that Singlonomics and Sinopharm had signed a letter of intent to conduct phase two and three trials abroad.
Xie’s project is one of 53 projects dedicated to Covid-19 research in China. To date, the Asian nation has poured $50 million into Covid-related therapies since the pandemic broke out in late 2019.