The antibody treatment bamlanivimab, or LY-CoV555, appears to be ineffective in treating severe cases of COVID-19, the drugmaker Eli Lilly announced yesterday (October 26). As a result, a clinical trial testing the drug in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has ended, but studies examining its use in early and mild-to-moderate coronavirus infections will continue.
Ending the clinical trial in hospitalized patients came in response to data showing the drug “is unlikely to help [the patients] recover from this advanced stage of their disease,” according to the company’s statement. That decision “tells us they stopped the trial due to futility, as suspected,” Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tells The New York Times. The result also “suggests that the timing of monoclonal antibody administration—early—will be important,” he notes.
The data on the drug support that idea, as results from other clinical trials of bamlanivimab indicate that it might block replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in human cells. The drug can also cut the rate of hospitalizations and emergency room visits in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms compared with patients not receiving the treatment.
Based on those other clinical trial results, Eli Lilly has asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization to treat less severe cases of COVID-19, the Associated Press reports.