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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has announced the identification of hundreds of fully human antibodies against Covid-19, caused by the novel coronavirus.

The virus-neutralising antibodies came from Regeneron ’s genetically-modified VelocImmune mice, which have an immune system similar to humans.

Furthermore, the company isolated antibodies from recovered Covid-19 patients.

Regeneron plans to choose the top two antibodies to create a ‘cocktail’ therapy given as prophylaxis or a treatment for infected people.

Meanwhile, the company is using its VelociMab technology to formulate manufacturing-ready cell lines to enable immediate clinical-scale production of selected antibodies.

The aim is to generate several thousands of prophylactic doses per month by later this year. Regeneron also intends to produce smaller quantities for initial clinical testing in June or August.

Furthermore, the company partnered with the US Health & Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Defense Authority (BARDA) to boost capacity.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals co-founder, president and chief scientific officer George Yancopoulos said: “Our three decades of investment in our VelociSuite antibody technologies, which accelerate and improve the traditional drug discovery process, have hopefully prepared us for this critical time and to meet this important challenge.

“Given the tremendous interest and concern around the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be providing regular and transparent updates on our discovery and development programmes.”

The company’s antibodies should act on the spike protein required by the virus to infect host cells.

Separately, Regeneron and Sanofi initiated a clinical programme of rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara (sarilumab) to treat hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19.