Vaccine makers get all the attention, but a handful of pharmaceutical companies are still leading the way in antibody drug research. Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) just broke a record Wednesday when it became the first to share positive human trial results. Eli Lilly stock is up slightly in intraday trading as a result.
According to the pharmaceutical giant, its LY-CoV555 antibody drug may be effective in treating the novel coronavirus. Proof of concept data from its Phase 2 trials indicates that one dose level — 2,800 milligrams — met the primary endpoint in the study. What was the endpoint? Eli Lilly was looking for the drug to reduce the viral load in patients after 11 days.
The early results also suggest that LY-CoV555 is helpful in reducing the need for hospitalization or other emergency care.
Why does this matter? Just because vaccine makers are racing ahead with a goal of early approval in mind does not mean that antibody drugs are unnecessary. Hurdles posed by manufacturing, deployment and even shipping logistics will make worldwide vaccination difficult. Plus, many individuals may be opposed to receiving vaccines in the earliest phases of approval. That is why companies like Eli Lilly see antibody drugs as a “bridge” to a coronavirus vaccine. Now, they just must prove these bridges work.
It seems as if investors are just waking up to this potential, as Eli Lilly stock is up only slightly Wednesday.
Eli Lilly Stock and Antibody Drugs
There has long been a lot to like about Eli Lilly, and thankfully, it will still progress with its Phase 2 trials. The company shared Wednesday that it is planning to release these early data in a peer-reviewed study, and it will work with regulators to determine next steps. Eli Lilly is also studying the LY-CoV555 antibody in conjunction with another.
Eli Lilly stock could also very well benefit from first-mover advantage. Its competitors include the likes of Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). Unsurprisingly, many of the companies working to develop antibody drugs are also participants in the vaccine race. But, as we have seen with the vaccine makers, being first is sometimes enough.
LY-CoV555, which Eli Lilly is developing with AbCellera, is also at the heart of a new Phase 3 study. Unusual in nature, this study focuses on elderly populations in nursing homes. Positive results from that study could also boost Eli Lilly stock.
On the date of publication, Sarah Smith did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Sarah Smith is a Web Content Producer for InvestorPlace.com.