Eli Lilly has initiated a Phase I study of an antibody-based drug, LY-CoV555, against Covid-19. This drug candidate was identified and developed as part of Lilly’s collaboration with Vancouver-based AbCellera signed in early May.

LY-CoV555 is an IgG1 monoclonal antibody, which targets the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19.

This randomised, placebo-controlled Phase I study aims to find out if LY-CoV555 is safe and tolerable in patients hospitalised with Covid-19. Results of this study are expected in late June, and then Lilly hopes it can quickly progress into a Phase II study of non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

Lilly chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky said: “We are privileged to help usher in this new era of drug development with the first potential new medicine specifically designed to attack the virus.

“Antibody therapies, such as LY-CoV555, may have potential for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and may be particularly important for groups hardest hit by the disease such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.”