A potential SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) vaccine is coming sooner than expected. Biotech titan Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) now seeks to deploy a unique approach against COVID-19. The therapy can act as a vaccine to prevent infection and also treat infected patients. Investors have responded by rushing to buy the company’s stock.
The announcement of the new treatment has sent REGN skyrocketing. Shares of the pharmaceutical company are up nearly 12% in after hours trading after hitting its 52-week high Tuesday. The stock is posting gains despite the overall negative sentiment in the market.
Regeneron said it plans to have a potential treatment for COVID-19 ready for human clinical trials as early as June. Investors welcomed the news as the company previously said it will conduct human testing in late summer. The update represents a two-month acceleration from the expected timeline.
In a CNBC interview, Regeneron’s co-founder and chief scientific officer said ,
There are always so many moving parts, but … we’re hitting our best numbers, our best timelines, and things are going really well.
The biotech giant is developing the therapy by experimenting on genetically-engineered mice that have immune systems comparable to humans. The mice get infected with a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and they will create human antibodies that can be mass produced and given to human patients.
Regeneron claims it has already isolated hundreds of antibodies that combat the virus on top of isolating antibodies from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. This approach allows the pharmaceutical company to come up with the best treatment.
In an interview with Barron’s, Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer says that the development of the drug can go “quickly”:
A drug like this could really slow down the number of people who needed really intensive respiratory therapy. This could go fairly quickly. There are unfortunately a lot of people in the hospital. If we can enroll the study quickly over the next month, you should know within a few weeks of treating people how they’re doing.
CNBC News anchor Clark Quintilla reported that Schleifer guaranteed the drug will be affordable.
The above should not be considered trading advice from CCN.com. The writer does not own Regeneron (REGN) shares.