Fed agency turns to Regeneron for first drugs against MERS

By John Golden

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. will manufacture and study two antibody drugs to combat deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, in a new agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state’s largest biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Westchester on The Landmark at Eastview campus, is already working with BARDA to advance a potential treatment for Ebola virus discovered and developed at its labs, Regeneron said in a Monday announcement.

Regeneron scientists used the company’s proprietary VelociGene and VelocImmune technologies to rapidly identify and preclinically validate the antibody candidates for the potential prevention and treatment of MERS, an often-fatal respiratory illness for which there are no approved medicines or vaccines. Cases of MERS have been reported in the Middle East, South Korea, Europe, the U.S., Africa and other countries in Asia, according to Regeneron officials.

Health and Human Services will provide up to $8.9 million to Regeneron to support packaging and labeling of the antibodies for human use, the preparation and submission of an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a clinical trial of the new drugs on healthy volunteers conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Neil Stahl, executive vice president of research and development at Regeneron, said the company “has built a unique rapid response platform to address emerging infectious disease threats” such as MERS and Ebola and is making quick progress on a preclinical program targeting the Zika virus. “We are committed to partnering with the government and other organizations to swiftly address these emerging public health emergencies,” Stahl said.

Regeneron officials said the MERS antibodies have been discovered and developed pursuant to Regeneron’s antibody discovery and preclinical development agreement with Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical giant, and Sanofi has opt-in rights for development and commercialization.

 

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About the author

John Golden
The Business Journal’s senior writer, John Golden directs news coverage of the county and Hudson Valley region as Westchester bureau chief. He was an award-winning upstate columnist and feature writer before joining the Business Journal in 2007. He is the author of “Northern Drift: Sketches on the New York Frontier,” a collection of his regional journalism.

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