China's new Covid-19 drugs showing good results, say researchers

Many participants enrolled in the trials were infected with the highly transmissible Delta variant. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Researchers in China are making progress on developing therapies to treat Covid-19 with several antibody drugs that neutralise the virus, emerging as promising candidates in clinical trials.

Biochemist Sunney Xie said his team has discovered a full-spectrum neutralising antibody that has tackled all known emerging variants in laboratory experiments.

The antibody, known as DXP-604, is so potent that it will likely treat any mutations, Professor Xie, director of the Beijing Advanced Innovation Centre for Genomics at Peking University, said at an academic conference in Shanghai last week.

He added that a new drug based on DXP-604 has demonstrated good efficacy in Phase 2 clinical trials.

As at Nov 2, the medication had been administered to 14 patients with Covid-19 at Beijing Ditan Hospital through the compassionate use programme, which expands access to experimental drugs for critical patients.

Meanwhile, Brii Biosciences announced recently that it has filed an application for emergency use authorisation with the US Food and Drug Administration for its therapy that combines two neutralising antibodies, BRII-196 and BRII-198.

Brii Biosciences is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in China and the United States. It co-developed the drug with Tsinghua University and the Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen.

The company said results from Phase 3 clinical trials overseas have shown that the medication can cut the risk of hospitalisation and death of Covid-19 patients by 78 per cent. Many participants enrolled in the trials were infected with the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Dr Hong Zhi, chairman and chief executive of the company, said that while vaccination remains the primary weapon against the coronavirus, antibody therapies can trigger immune responses more rapidly and are the most suitable treatment for close contacts of infected people and those who have already contracted the virus, but have not begun showing symptoms.

Brii Biosciences said last Friday (Nov 5) it will offer the drug to Heilongjiang and Qinghai provinces for free. Both provinces are coping with local outbreaks.

Since June, nearly 700 patients in China have received the drug.

Preliminary feedback from front-line medical workers suggests that the drug is safe and shows good antiviral effects on emerging variants, the statement said.

"Vaccines and antibody therapies are two weapons that complement each other," said Professor Zhang Linqi at Tsinghua University's School of Medicine.

During an interview with news outlet, Prof Zhang said highly effective and broad-spectrum antibodies can induce effects very quickly and will mainly benefit people exhibiting mild and moderate symptoms or who are at risk of developing severe illnesses.

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