The Swiss biotech company Molecular Partners and Novartis report good news: their antiviral therapeutic Ensovibep has shown good results in a study. Infectiologist Andreas Widmer is also hopeful.

The antiviral drug Ensovibep raises hopes that risk patients will be better off from severe Covid-19 courses in the future to be able to protect. (In the picture: an employee of the manufacturing company Molecular Partners in the laboratory)

The anti can do that -Covid drug from Switzerland

The therapeutic was developed by the Schlieren biotech company Molecular Partners …

 The anti-Covid drug from Switzerland can do that

… and the pharmaceutical company Novartis.

That's what it's about

  • The Covid drug Ensovibep from the Swiss company Molecular Partners has passed an important hurdle.

  • Although the clinical study on the effectiveness against the dominant Omikron variant is still pending, the company is confident.

  • Infectiologist Andreas Widmer also believes that hopes for the antiviral drug are justified.

What can Ensovibep do?

According to the manufacturers, Ensovibep – administered in good time – significantly reduces the viral load in people infected with corona. This is evident from the phase II study (see box). “The virus disappears faster from the organism and the risk of hospitalization and a doctor's visit is reduced by 78 percent,” said Patrick Amstutz, CEO of Molecular Partners, naming the most important advantages over 20 minutes. The recovery of the sick was also accelerated: “With the drug, more patients recovered completely by day 29.”

In the study, none of the patients treated with Ensovibep died. In the control group, in which the test subjects received a placebo, there were two deaths.

This is how the study went

The study took place as part of the so-called EMPATHY study. This is a global study in outpatient (non-hospitalized) adult patients with Covid-19. 407 patients participated in the USA, South Africa, India, the Netherlands and Hungary. The aim was also to find the right dosage. Three different doses were examined: 75 mg, 225 mg and 600 mg. All three turned out to be safe and well tolerated, with 75 mg being the planned dose for further development.

Which Covid-19 patients can benefit from Ensovibep3 >

According to Amstutz, Ensovibep is intended for high-risk patients who have to reckon with a difficult course. These include older people and those who are very overweight.

When does it have to be administered – and how – so that it is fully effective?

Ensovibep is given intravenously and must be given early. Anyone given the drug within seven days of infection or diagnosis has a very good chance of a successful cure. “If those affected are already in the hospital, it probably no longer works,” says Amstutz. «The virus has to be blocked before it has done any damage.»

What kind of drug is Ensovibep?

Ensovibep belongs to the group of antivirals. These are drugs that inhibit viruses. Antiviral therapeutic agents, for example, prevent the pathogens from docking on the body's own cells or being able to multiply inside such cells.

What is special about Enshovibeppp?Specifically, Ensovibep is a new class of tailor-made protein drugs, a so-called DARPin (Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein): It has a molecule that attaches to up to three areas of Sars-CoV-2 at the same time and so the virus can neutralize different types. Through this “multi-specific” approach, it should work against all common Sars-CoV-2 variants and also against so-called escape mutants, which can better escape the human immune response. The manufacturers speak of a «pan activity», which gives hope «that future variants will also be blocked», says Amstutz.

The dominant omicron variant is considered an escape mutant – does Ensovibep also counteract this?

At the time of the study, the Omikron variant did not yet exist. Accordingly, mainly patients who were infected with the Delta variant took part in the clinical study (in vivo). But those responsible for the study checked the effectiveness of the drug against Omikron in a test tube (in vitro) and observed activity. “We are therefore convinced that it will have the same effect,” says Amstutz. «We expect a high level of penetration.»

When will Ensovibep be available in Switzerland?

That cannot be said yet. “We expect that the emergency approvals should come soon,” says Molecular Partners CEO Amstutz. “For the formal approval, we will discuss the collected data with the authorities in the next few days.” The latter needs more time. A larger global study is needed for this, but it is already planned. As soon as Ensovibep is approved in Switzerland, it can then also be administered soon. The federal government already ordered 200,000 cans in advance in August 2020.

Can Ensovibep replace the vaccinations?

No, and neither should it. Rather, it is “another tool in the kit” in the fight against Sars-CoV-2. «I always recommend vaccination. But where vaccination is not possible or where the vaccination has waned, we have the drug », says Amstutz.

Is that the breakthrough?

So far only the media releases from Molecular Partners and Novartis and a preliminary study have been published. That means: The data has not yet been checked by uninvolved researchers. But: The findings are promising. However, these are only the results of the phase II studies. The phase III studies are still pending.

Although the clinical testing with a large number of patients is still pending, the infectiologist Andreas Widmer, who was not involved in the investigation, believes the hope is justified, “that in addition to paxlovid – a tablet – we will have another substance for early therapy against Covid -19 will have. ” But he also emphasizes that “the triple vaccination is the most effective weapon against Omicron disease”.

Do you or does someone you know have problems with the Corona time?

You can find help here:

BAG-Infoline Coronavirus, Tel. 058 463 00 00

BAG-Infoline Covid-19 vaccination, Tel. 058 377 88 92

Dureschnufe.ch, platform for mental health related to Corona

Safezone.ch, anonymous online advice on addiction issues

Industry Aid.ch, Advice for affected economic sectors

Pro Juventute, advice for children and adolescents, Tel. 147

Dargebotene Hand, Worry Hotline, Tel. 143

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teresa@ntelegram.com 1-800-268-7341

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