Celltrion said Monday that has successfully secured 300 types of antibodies that bind to the antigen and established the antibody library from the blood of the recovered coronavirus patients.
The company plans to complete preparations for human administration by the end of July, bringing the target time for clinical trials on humans within four to six months.
Celltrion has begun screening for the secondary candidate antibody groups while proceeding with the in vitro neutralization assay by using cells infected by the new coronavirus. The company is conducting the neutralization assay in cooperation with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Chungbuk National University.
Candidate antibodies chosen by the assay will be verified through a series of additional procedures, such as using animal models in confirming the treatment’s efficacy, evaluating antibody-specific characteristics, and, eventually, the final selection.
The company is also conducting research and development to use therapeutic antibodies for various purposes.
By the end of this month, Celltrion will start to collect additional blood samples of recovered patients, aside from the already secured ones by the assay, to sort out “super antibody,” which can neutralize all viruses, including the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and COVID-19.
The super antibody is expected to neutralize even the mutated COVID-19 virus in the future. The purpose is to prepare for other pandemics effectively, which may break out in the future.
Celltrion is preparing for the rapid worldwide supply of treatments through global clinical trials, as major overseas regulators, such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have promised maximal support to companies that started to develop new drugs to fight COVID-19, the company said.
Celltrion has the mass production capacity to meet large-scale demand for clinical trials on a human for therapeutics. In case of an emergency, the company plans to work with its contract manufacturing organization partners abroad.
Besides, the company is accelerating the development of the COVID-19 diagnostic kit prototype. Its diagnostic kit detects S protein from the coronavirus. In contrast, the existing diagnosis kits detect the N protein commonly possessed by various types of coronavirus.
Celltrion's detecting method is likely to show a similar diagnostic capability to that of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Also, the detection kit in development will only require 15 to 20 minutes for the result to come out.