Small US firm’s shares soar as it hails breakthrough on ‘100%’ COVID-19 antibody
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Small US firm’s shares soar as it hails breakthrough on ‘100%’ COVID-19 antibody

Sorrento Therapeutics claims an antibody it is developing showed ‘100% inhibition’ of coronavirus in preclinical studies

A health worker draws blood from a patient for a COVID-19 antibody test at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand, Florida, on May 5, 2020. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
A health worker draws blood from a patient for a COVID-19 antibody test at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand, Florida, on May 5, 2020. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Shares for a small American biotechnology firm skyrocketed on Friday by as much as 244 percent after it announced that an antibody it developed showed “100% inhibition” of the COVID-19 virus in preclinical studies.

San Diego-based Sorrento Therapeutics said that it was looking to generate “an antibody cocktail product” that would act as a “protective shield” against infection by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and remain effective even if amid virus mutations.

The company said its anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody, STI-1499, “completely neutralized” the virus at a very low antibody dose in a lab setting, “making it a prime candidate for further testing and development.”

Following the announcement, Sorrento’s market value surged from $549 million on Thursday to roughly $1.9 billion on Friday, according to a Markets Insider report.

Sorrento said it plans to request “priority evaluation and accelerated review” from regulators to make the potential treatment available as soon as possible. The antibody is being tested as the first in a mix of antibodies and as a stand-alone therapy, the company indicated.

“Our STI-1499 antibody shows exceptional therapeutic potential and could potentially save lives following receipt of necessary regulatory approvals,” said Sorrento CEO and chairman Dr. Henry Ji in a company statement.

A number of companies and scientific organizations are developing possible treatments for COVID-19, including antibody therapy, vaccines, and pharmaceuticals.

The Israel Institute for Biological Research, is seen in this file photo, hidden behind shrubs and barbed-wire in the Israeli town of Ness Tziona, south of Tel Aviv, Oct. 14,1998. (AP Photo/Mark Levie)

Earlier this month, Israel’s shadowy Biological Research Institute said it was the first in the world to reach three major milestones with regard to a treatment: finding an antibody that destroys the virus; that targets this coronavirus specifically; and that is monoclonal, lacking additional proteins that can cause complications for patients.

The institute warned however that medication was still at least several months away. The Defense Ministry-run laboratory, based in Ness Ziona, said it was working to file a patent for this antibody.

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