Regeneron secures $326M in BARDA funds to work on next-gen COVID antibody therapy

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has tapped Regeneron for a next-generation COVID-19 antibody therapy, promising up to $326 million in government funds in the hope of getting a candidate into the clinic this year.

The agreement means the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will front up to 70% of the costs for Regeneron to develop a “next-generation monoclonal antibody therapy with broad neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2,” the pharma said in a Tuesday release.

Regeneron will be left to invent a next-gen antibody candidate by itself, which the company will then evaluate alongside BARDA and agree upon a plan for further development, manufacturing and regulatory activities. The aim is to get the resulting candidate into clinical trials this year.

Regeneron’s work with BARDA stretches back to 2017, when the government agency first signed up the drugmaker to develop antibodies for a wide range of pathogens, including Ebola and influenza. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the drugmaker received a $450 million government contract to scale up the manufacturing and supply of its antibody cocktail REGN-COV2.

“Although COVID-19 has moved to an endemic stage, many people—including those with immunocompromising conditions—continue to face exposure that impacts their everyday life and could cause serious health consequences,” Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., said in the Aug. 22 release. “American biopharmaceutical companies developed remarkable COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines in record time, successfully changing the course of the pandemic, and we’re gratified that the U.S. government continues to support early research from this uniquely innovative industry.”

The latest collaboration also falls under BARDA’s Project NextGen, a $5 billion fund to advance a pipeline of innovative vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.