South Korea-based Celltrion Group has reported positive results from the preclinical tests of its Covid-19 antibody treatment, which led to a 100-fold decrease in the viral load of SARS-CoV-2.

The therapy demonstrated improvement in lung lesions to a normal activity level in animal models. The pre-clinical study was carried out in an animal model in alliance with Chungbuk National University College of Medicine.

The study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of high and low dosage levels of antibody therapy.

According to the company, the treatment resulted in improved recovery in terms of clinical symptom scores such as cough and body aches, after the first day of therapy, when compared to placebo. Significant clinical remission was found from the fifth day.

Investigators used reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) measurement and cell culture-based viral diagnosis to study samples from the upper respiratory tract and the lungs.

A 100-fold reduction in viral load was observed in the samples from the high-dose group.

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Meanwhile, lung biopsy revealed that inflammation returned to normal lung tissue histopathology at both dosages within six days, as well as a shortened recovery time, while lung inflammation and complications sustained in the placebo group.

Celltrion R&D Unit head Ki-Sung Kwon said: “Celltrion is leveraging its advanced technologies to lead efforts to develop a novel antiviral antibody treatment containing potent therapeutic antibodies that can neutralise the virus.

“Celltrion hopes to commence first-in-human clinical trials in July and has the capability to roll out mass production of the therapeutic antibody treatment once it is ready.”

In April, the company identified the antibody candidates that showed the most promise for neutralising the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

These antibodies are based on the blood of recovered patients in Korea, said the company.

Following positive preclinical results, the company will perform further efficacy and toxicity testing in preclinical studies.