Regeneron, BARDA partner to develop MERS virus treatment


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ($REGN) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have done a deal to develop a pair of antibodies to prevent and treat Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These MERS antibodies were discovered and developed under Regeneron’s deal with Sanofi--and are subject to opt-in rights from Sanofi.

The pair, Regeneron and BARDA, already have an existing agreement for an Ebola therapy that was discovered by Regeneron and has recently entered Phase I testing, as well as received an Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA. The company uses its VelociGene and VelocImmune technologies for the identification and preclinical validation of antibodies.

"Regeneron has built a unique rapid response platform to address emerging infectious disease threats. In addition to the programs in MERS and Ebola that we are advancing with BARDA, we are also quickly progressing a preclinical program targeting the Zika virus," said Neil Stahl, EVP of R&D at Regeneron. "We are committed to partnering with the government and other organizations to swiftly address these emerging public health emergencies."

Under the new MERS deal, HHS will provide up to $8.9 million in funding to Regeneron to help back manufacturing, IND submission and a clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There are no approved drugs to treat or prevent MERS, which causes severe respiratory tract infections that can result in death.

“We remain committed to using our technologies and approaches to help address emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola, MERS and Zika,” summed up Founding Scientist and President of Regeneron Laboratories and CSO in the company’s most recent earnings call.

He continued, “For Zika, we have identified several fully human monoclonal antibody candidates that are able to potentially block the virus – to potently block the virus from infecting cells in vitro. And early data indicate that these antibodies are protective in an animal model. We’re now in the process of scaling up for human trials. We also recently initiated our first-in-human study in healthy volunteers in our Ebola program which has been granted orphan drug designation by the FDA.”

- here is the release

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