High-risk patients suffering from coronavirus infections in the EU and USA could soon be treated with the innovative antibody drug developed by the Ticino-based company Humabs Biomed. The two responsible regulatory authorities, namely the European Medicine Agency and US Food and Drug Administration, have in each case issued an Emergency Use Authorization, details of which can be found in the corresponding press releases. “The ball is now squarely in the hands of the government to reach an agreement with our company so that Swiss patients may also benefit from this new treatment option”, according to Filippo Riva, CEO of Humabs Biomed, who was quoted by RSI News.
In the early stages of treating COVID patients, the anti-COVID drug developed by Humabs Biomed reduces the necessity of hospitalization and risk of a fatal disease progression by 85 percent. The drug is based on a monoclonal antibody that the Ticino specialists in antibody therapeutics discovered last year in collaboration with a group of US researchers. In addition, a further study has also proven that the drug is effective against the virus variants and mutations identified to date.
Switzerland has already approved the use of two antibody drugs to combat coronavirus infections. “We took a different approach in which we looked at the blood of a patient infected with the first strain of the virus. In so doing, we went in search of the Achilles heel of the virus. The result is that we can now achieve the same, if not better, efficacy than our competitors using a single antibody and at a much lower dose”, Riva explains.
This huge success for the biotech location of Bellinzona and the canton of Ticino in general is down to various collaborations, for example between the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), which is part of the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI: University of Italian Switzerland), the association of hospitals in the canton of Ticino (Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale; EOC), private hospitals and the canton of Ticino itself.