Regeneron has initiated its first clinical trial of a cocktail of antiviral antibody drugs, REGN-COV2, for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

After evaluating thousands of antibodies in its proprietary genetically modified mouse models, Regeneron chose two to advance into the clinic. They are non-competitive, potent and virus-neutralising and target the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19. This builds on previous experience that drug combinations are highly effective in other viral diseases, most notably HIV.

The REGN-COV2 development programme will study this cocktail of antibody drugs in four separate trial populations, as well as placebo. These include both non-hospitalised and hospitalised patients, as well as uninfected people at both high exposure and close exposure.

Regeneron co-founder, president and chief scientific officer George D Yancopoulos said: “We have created a unique anti-viral antibody cocktail with the potential both to prevent and treat infection, and also to preempt viral ‘escape,’ a critical precaution in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic.

“REGN-COV2 could have a major impact on public health by slowing spread of the virus and providing a needed treatment for those already sick – and could be available much sooner than a vaccine.

“The antibody cocktail approach may also have long-term utility for elderly and immuno-compromised patients, who often do not respond well to vaccines.”