Another big biopharmaceutical company has joined the crowd working to develop effective treatments for COVID-19. AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) has partnered with Harbour BioMed, Utrecht University, and Erasmus Medical Center to develop 47D11, an antibody that blocks the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.   

To treat and prevent

AbbVie's partners made waves in May with a paper describing 47D11 and its ability to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. In a laboratory, the antibody latched onto the spike protein that's essentially the key that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter a host's cells. If 47D11 can safely do the same thing to the virus in humans, it could be used as a treatment for COVID-19 or as a post-exposure measure to prevent people from becoming ill.

Gloved hand holding coronavirus blood vial.

Image source: Getty Images.

While AbbVie and its partners are working at a remarkable pace, there is no data from animal studies of 47D11 yet. Pushed along by the company's vast resources, preclinical studies will progress quickly, but we still don't know when researchers will be ready to start human clinical trials of 47D11.

Late entry

At this point, at least two experimental antibodies that target SARS-CoV-2 are far ahead of 47D11 in the development cycle. Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN) plans to begin clinical trials with REGN-COV2, an antibody cocktail comprised of two or three proteins that work in concert, later this month.

And Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) began dosing actual COVID-19 patients with its experimental treatment, LY-CoV555, earlier this week. LY-CoV555 is a monoclonal antibody developed from antibodies that were isolated from one of the first U.S. patients to recover from COVID-19.

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