Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) and Junshi Biosciences have agreed to co-develop therapeutic antibodies for the potential prevention of SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus infection and treatment of Covid-19.

Established in 2012, Junshi Biosciences is a Chinese biopharmaceutical company engaged in discovery, development and commercialisation of novel therapies.

The company has launched research and development programme efforts for discovering therapies against Covid-19, at the beginning of the outbreak.

Also, it has developed multiple neutralising antibodies including JS016, a recombinant human monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to the SARS-CoV-2 surface spike protein receptor and prevents the virus from binding to host cell surface receptor.

Junshi Biosciences CEO Ning Li said: “Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we have been working diligently to join the fight against the pandemic. Entering into this agreement with Lilly empowers us to accelerate the clinical development of Junshi SARS-CoV-2 antibodies globally.

“At the same time, by leveraging Lilly’s global presence and capabilities, we have the potential to reach broader Covid-19 patient populations in a wider range of countries and regions.”

Junshi Biosciences and Lilly will initiate clinical trials in US

Under the partnership, Junshi Biosciences and Lilly will submit an IND application and initiate US clinical trials in the second quarter of 2020.

Also, Junshi is actively communicating with the Center for Drug Evaluation of the National Medical Products Administration, to initiate the IND application submission in China.

Lilly will receive an exclusive license for clinical development, manufacturing and distribution of products outside of Greater China, while Junshi Biosciences will hold all rights in Greater China.

Lilly chief scientific officer and Lilly Research Laboratories president Daniel Skovronsky said: “As the number of global cases continues to grow, there is an urgent need to study multiple complementary approaches to address this disease.

“The data generated by Junshi Biosciences suggest the lead antibody may have appropriate properties to support testing its therapeutic use in patients as well as exploring its potential for preventing infection in at-risk individuals.

“We look forward to partnering with Junshi Biosciences to quickly begin testing this potential new therapy in clinical trials.”