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Takeda begins development of COVID-19 plasma therapy

Drug will harness the antibodies of recovered coronavirus patients

Takeda

Takeda has started development of a drug for use against the novel coronavirus – which causes the disease known as COVID-19 – the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Takeda aims to develop an anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune globin, a plasma-derived drug, which will harness the blood of coronavirus patients who have recovered from their infections.

By using this method, researchers hope to harness the antibodies produced by previous patients as a successful treatment for new patients, with the aim of strengthening their immune systems and reducing the severity of symptoms associated with the novel virus.

According to Takeda, plasma-derived therapies have previously shown efficacy against other severe acute viral respiratory infections, making them a viable treatment option for use against COVID-19.

As well as its research into a plasma-derived drug, which the company has named TAK-888, Takeda will study its marketed and pipeline products to see if they could be effective for the treatment of the novel coronavirus.

“We have identified relevant assets and capabilities across the company and are hopeful that we can expand the treatment options for patients with COVID-19 and the providers caring for them,” said Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda’s vaccine business unit and co-lead of the company’s COVID-19 response team.

Takeda has said it is in discussions with a number of national health and regulatory agencies, as well as health care partners in the US, Asia and Europe to expedite the research into TAK-888.

Because of the nature of the experimental drug, Takeda will need access to plasma from people who have recovered from the infection – or who have been vaccinated, once a vaccine has been developed.

Since it appears that a marketed vaccine is some ways off – experts have said it could take at least a year to develop a successful one – Takeda will have to rely on donated plasma from recovered patients for now.

A number of therapeutics are being studied to determine their effectiveness against COVID-19, with the frontrunner undoubtedly being Gilead’s remdesivir. The anti-viral drug is currently being tested in coronavirus patients with severe illness in the US and in China – the epicentre of the outbreak.

China has also approved Roche’s anti-inflammatory drug Actemra (tocilizumab) for the treatment of coronavirus patients with lung complications from the disease, with Roche reportedly donating nearly $2m-worth of the drug to the country.

At the moment, approximately 90,000 people have been infected globally since the beginning of the outbreak, with most of those in China, and around 3,000 have died.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

5th March 2020

From: Research

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