Artificial antibodies against the virus
Timeline: <span 400;">Potentially <span 400;">early fall
<span 400;">Many of the pharmaceutical industry’s best-sellers are what are called monoclonal antibodies, which are antibodies developed in mice and then made into drugs that can be injected into patients.
<span 400;">A manufactured antibody, or a mix of manufactured antibodies, might have a more consistent impact than using blood plasma, and it can be off-the-shelf. Regeneron, the Tarrytown, N.Y., biotech, had success developing a mixture of antibodies against Ebola; it is <span 400;">now selecting two to use against SARS-CoV-2<span 400;">, with the expectation that trials could start by early summer. If all goes well, it could be available by early fall for some uses, like treating extremely sick patients. Eli Lilly, working with a Vancouver startup called AbCellera, has said it hopes to start trials of a similar approach within four months. Vir Biotechnology and Biogen are following a similar path. Antibodies might also be used to prevent infection, but that could take longer to test in studies.
Timeline: <span 400;">2021 at the earliest
<span 400;">If existing antivirals cannot control SARS-CoV-2, brand new medicines may be needed. But this process is at square one, and even moving at full-speed could eat up months. Efforts are underway to search chemical libraries for medicines that could prove effective by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. If they can find medicines that have gone through some previous testing, as remdesivir has, that could hasten the process.
Timeline:<span 400;"> Late 2021, possibly many years
<span 400;">There is one approach that could deliver a vaccine faster than others: It uses messenger RNA to make cells produce proteins that could lead to immunity. This approach has never been used in a widely available vaccine. The <span 400;">biotech Moderna is in the lead here<span 400;">, but others, such as BioNTech, working with Pfizer, are working on a similar approach.
<span 400;">It could take 18 months to be sure that approach works and is broadly safe. Even with increased manufacturing capacity, supply could be a problem. Other approaches are being developed in tandem, including one from Sanofi, now used for flu vaccines, that manufactures vaccines in insect cells. However, Moderna said in a filing with the SEC Monday that its vaccine might be available for some groups, including health care workers, as early as fall 2020.
<span 400;">“If you look across the many programs that have been launched, if you look at <span 400;">history, not all of those programs will be successful,” said Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda’s global vaccines unit, during <span 400;">a press conference<span 400;"> last week. “And I think that is something that I don’t think we’ve effectively communicated to the public. Just because we start a vaccine program doesn’t mean that we will definitely get a vaccine on the other end.”
<span 400;">The good news about having so many efforts in progress, he said, is it increases the chances that one will succeed.