What are the most promising drugs, antibodies, and vaccines in development against COVID-19? Our team sifted through hundreds of articles and research papers to identify the most promising ones. In most cases, these drugs, vaccines and antibodies are already in use for other diseases, making it easier to leverage them in the fight against the Coronavirus.
The Battle Against COVID-19
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an emerging global pandemic that is threatening the viability of healthcare systems worldwide. Below, companies leading the charge in the fight against Coronavirus and their products under development are described.
Previously, we’ve described leading cellular therapies under development againt COVID-19, which is why they are not included here.
AbbVie – Lopinavir/Ritonavir
AbbVie has been manufacturing the co-formulation lopinavir/ritonavir, which is used for the treatment of HIV. Currently, the company is working with health authorities to see if it can be used as a treatment against COVID-19, based on unconfirmed reports in China that its use was helpful in combating COVID-19.
AbbVie has offered the drug to several countries, including China, as an experimental option. The company is co-operating with CDC, WHO and NIH to test the drug in patients across the globe.
Eli Lilly – Antibody
Recently, Eli Lilly announced it has is partnering with Vancouver-based biotech firm AbCellera for the co-development of antibody-based treatments against COVID-19. The firms have already discovered “hundreds” of antibodies that might be effective against the disease, with the next step being to screen those for the most effective treatment candidate. In under two weeks, they have discovered hundreds of antibodies that can be used against COVID-19.
Gilead Sciences – Remdesivir
For the past few years, Gilead has been developing Remdesivir, an anti-viral that has demonstrated promising results in laboratory and animal studies against SARS, MERS, Ebola and other infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The company has begun clinical trials in the U.S. and China to study if the drug can be effective against the COVID-19 and is working with governments to provide the drug as an emergency treatment in the absence of other options.
Currently, the drug is being used in large-scale human testing. After making an evaluation in February 2020, WHO described Remdesivir as the “most promising candidate” against COVID-19.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – Pandemic Vaccine Adjuvant Platform
GSK had earlier developed a pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform, a system that helps to improve vaccines by strengthening the immune response in patients who receive it. In February 2020, GSK announced it was partnering with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to use that platform to improve potential vaccines to the COVID-19.
As part of that collaboration, it signed an agreement with the University of Queensland, Australia, which is developing a potential vaccine. The company is also partnering with the Chinese pharmaceutical company Clover to use its adjuvant platform with that company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
GSK/Clover Biopharmaceuticals – Vaccine
GlaxoSmithKline is teaming up with Clover Biopharmaceuticals of China to develop a preclinical protein-based vaccine candidate. GSK is to provide its pandemic adjuvant system for further evaluation of Clover’s ‘S-Trimer,’ a trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike (S)-protein subunit vaccine candidate produced using a mammalian cell-culture based expression system.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals/Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology – DNA Vaccine
Inovio Pharmaceuticals is teaming up with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology to bring the DNA vaccine candidate INO-4800 quickly into clinical trials. Inovio has been awarded a grant of up to $9 million by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The company has entrusted the manufacturing of vaccine with VGXI (subsidiary of GeneOne Life Science) in its facilities in The Woodlands, Texas.
Janssen Pharmaceutical/HHS – Vaccine
Janssen Pharmaceutical (J&J) is teaming up with HSS to speed up the development of a vaccine to be used against COVID-19. Janssen is reviewing its products in development for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), to identify suitable candidates for COVID-19, and aims to upscale production and manufacturing capacities, leveraging its AdVac and PER.C6 technologies.
Johnson & Johnson – Vaccine
Johnson & Johnson has been partnering with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a federal agency that helps in developing countermeasures to biological threats, to develop potential vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The company is trying to identify molecules in its libraries that might be effective against COVID-19.
J&J is also leveraging technologies that were used in successfully developing an Ebola vaccine towards finding promising vaccine candidates. J&J has sent several batches of its HIV drug darunavir/cobicistat to China for testing the efficacy against COVID-19.
MIGAL Research Institute – Byproduct of Poultry vaccine
Israel’s MIGAL Research Institute has claimed that it is sitting on a human vaccine against COVID-19 as a by-product of a vaccine it has already developed against avian coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV). It has been reported that the poultry coronavirus genome is nearly similar to the human COVID-19, and that it uses the same infection mechanism. Therefore, MIGAL is hopeful of bringing out a human vaccine for COVID-19 in a short period of time.
Moderna – mRNA Vaccine
Moderna has been developing an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine has been developed in collaboration with scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The vaccine acts by inducing the immune system to develop antibodies against a “spike protein” found on the virus. Already, one batch of the vaccine has been manufactured and delivered to the NIAID for a first round of testing.
The vaccine is already in Phase I trial. In fact, the vaccine was developed, manufactured and delivered for testing just after 42 days after the DNA sequence of COVID-19 was first discovered.
Pfizer – Antiviral Molecules
In the first week of March 2020, Pfizer made an announcement of its discoveries of several promising antiviral molecules that stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from reproducing in cells in the laboratory. The drug candidates are now being screened to identify the best candidates to move into the development pipeline. The company is also exploring the possibility of combining these molecules with antiviral treatments developed by other firms.
Regeneron/HHS – VelociSuite Technology
Regeneron is teaming up with HHS to use its VelociSuite technologies for identifying, validating and developing preclinical candidates against COVID-19, following a similar approach to advance its investigational Ebola treatment REGN-EB3. The tech platform includes the VelocImmune mouse technology, a genetically modified strain in which genes encoding mouse immune system proteins have been replaced by their human equivalents.
Sanofi Pasteur/HHS – Vaccine
Sanofi Pasteur is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to speed up vaccine development for COVID-19. The company aims to reverse engineer proteins isolated from COVID-19 to produce DNA sequences, which will then be mass produced using its baculoviral expression system to formulate a vaccine that elicits an immune response.
Takeda – Polyclonal Hyperimmune Globulin
Recently, Takeda announced that it is developing to a therapy for targeting COVID-19 based on polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG). The drug candidate, TAK-888, aims to concentrate pathogen-specific antibodies from plasma collected from recovered patients. Takeda is also reviewing its current pipeline for any other viable drug candidates to take on COVID-19.
Vir Biotechnology – Antibody
On March 12, 2020, Vir Biotechnology announced that it is collaborating with BioGen to manufacture antibodies that may have potential to treat COVID-19. The company has already identified antibodies from people who recovered from SARS and is studying to see if they might be active against the COVID-19, as the two are very similar. The company is also collaborating with Wuxi Biologics in its research activities.
Cellular Therapies Against COVID-19
Or course, there are also many promising cellular therapy treatment under development against COVID-19, as described in the articles below: