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June 8, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – AstraZeneca reports positive data for Calquence in Covid-19 – AbbVie to develop a monoclonal antibody therapeutic with three partners

By Allie Nawrat

8 June 2020

AstraZeneca has reported positive data from a case series involving its blood cancer drug Calquence (acalabrutinib) for the treatment of hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19. Data showed that the drug reduced laboratory markers of inflammation and improved clinical outcomes in majority of 19 Covid-19 patients with severe hypoxia and/or inflammation.

AbbVie has partnered with Harbour BioMed (HBM), Utrecht University (UU) and Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) to develop a monoclonal antibody therapeutic for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. The partners will advance fully human, neutralising antibody 47D11, which was identified by HBM, UU and EMC.

Researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK have stopped participant enrolment to the hydroxychloroquine arm of the RECOVERY trial. The move comes after an independent Data Monitoring Committee review found no benefit with the drug in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

AstraZeneca has informally approached Gilead Sciences regarding a potential merger of the companies, reported Bloomberg citing people familiar with the matter. The news agency added that currently Gilead is not planning to sell to or merge with a bigger pharmaceutical firm, while an AstraZeneca spokesman refused to comment on ‘rumours or speculation’.

China-based Junshi Biosciences has dosed first healthy volunteer in its Phase I clinical trial of SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody, JS016, at Huashan Hospital. The company partnered with Eli Lilly to develop the drug candidate, which is said to be the first SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody to advance into trials in China.

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