Eli Lilly Launches Covid-19 Antibody Treatment Trial in Assisted Living, Long-Term Care

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) on Monday launched a late-stage clinical trial in long-term care facilities for its Covid-19 antibody treatment.

The Phase 3 trial, dubbed BLAZE-2, is being conducted in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and will enroll up to 2,400 residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Lilly and NIAID will utilize recreational vehicles customized into mobile research units to conduct the trials on site.

Participants in the trial will be given a dose of an antibody, LY-CoV555, developed from a blood sample from one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from Covid-19 to determine its effectiveness in reducing infection rates or to treat those who are already infected with the virus.

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Lilly developed the antibody with AbCellera Biologics, a Canadian research firm specializing in therapeutic antibodies. The two firms launched the study in June.

The latest phase is centering on long-term care, which was an early epicenter of the pandemic’s spread across the U.S. More than 40% of coronavirus deaths in the country can be traced to long-term care facilities. The skilled nursing sector has been hit particularly hard and a significant portion of the federal government’s response to the pandemic has focused on testing and procuring safety equipment for nursing homes.

But a congressional study released last month, sponsored by Democratic Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, along with Democratic New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, suggests that over 7,000 assisted living residents may have died from Covid-19 in the United States. Industry groups used the report’s findings to repeat calls to Congress for federal assistance for assisted living communities struggling with the virus.

The Lilly-AbCellera trial is one of several ongoing studies to develop either an antibody treatment or a vaccine. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: REGN) entered late-stage trials last month of an antibody cocktail intended to prevent and treat the virus.

Operators are also exploring antibody testing. Fellowship Village, a New Jersey continuing care retirement community, implemented antibody testing in June. Bloomfield, New Jersey-based operator Juniper Communities also conducts antibody testing for staff who previously tested positive for coronavirus, and is piloting an antibody test with Nanomix, a California-based medical device company.

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