After Ebola success, Regeneron turns antibody capabilities against 2019-nCoV 

Regeneron has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a treatment for the coronavirus outbreak. The alliance will leverage Regeneron antibody technology that gave rise to an effective treatment for the Ebola virus. 

Through the project, Regeneron and the HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) aim to develop multiple monoclonal antibodies that, when given as monotherapies or in combination, treat the 2019-nCoV coronavirus. The plan is to develop antibodies that bind to viral proteins and, in doing so, stop the pathogen from readily infecting human cells.

Regeneron has previously applied its antibody discovery capabilities to pathogens including Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The Ebola medicine emerged from a four-therapy clinical trial as one of the preferred treatments for the virus.

The 2019-nCoV collaboration unveiled this week is an expansion of an existing relationship between Regeneron and HHS, which teamed up in 2017 to work on antibodies against up to 10 pathogens. 

Rick Bright, deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response and director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at ASPR, framed the expanded collaboration as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to protect the nation.

“Emerging infectious diseases can present serious threats to our nation's health security. Working as public-private partners like we have with Regeneron since 2014, we can move rapidly to respond to new global health threats,” Bright said in a statement. 

The HHS-Regeneron collaboration opens another front in the growing effort to develop medicines and vaccines against 2019-nCoV. Other companies including AbbVie, Gilead Sciences and Moderna are also going after the virus. Some of those projects are more advanced than Regeneron’s program, but HHS thinks its partner can move quickly, pointing to technology that truncated development of the Ebola and MERS-CoV antibodies to make its case.