Our Time Press

New York State May Become Epicenter for Research in Novel Virus Cure

Dr. Shirley Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), with engineers seen in a photo taken previously, with the supercomputer, AiMOS, short for Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System. The powerful computer can perform eight quadrillion calculations per second. It has been offered to government entities, academic universities, national labs, and private business to support new COVID-19 research. Our Time Press has placed a call to the campus for an interview with Dr. Jackson(Photo: Times Union) (Compiled by Bernice Elizabeth Green)

While the politicians roil in Washington, D.C., corporations like Regeneron and universities like RPI (Rensselaer Politechnic Institute), leaders in their fields, are seeking the information to help researchers combat the new coronavirus.

Twelve days into self-quarantine in Troy, New York, the publishers of Our Time Press got welcome words from a Thomas Pest Control representative: he had heard the nearby Regeneron of Rensselaer County was ramping up its Novel COVID-19 Antibody program, for the purpose of seeking a cure. (The company’s Tarrytown-based corporate office, actually officially announced “important advances” in a March 17 press release, we later learned.)
Regeneron reports it has made progress in its “efforts to discover and develop a movel multi-antibody cocktail that can be administered as prophylaxis before exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or as treatment for those already infected.
“Regeneron scientists have now isolated hundreds of virus-neutralizing, fully human antibodies from the company’s VelocImmune® mice, which have been genetically-modified to have a human immune system.
“Regeneron has also isolated antibodies from humans who have recovered from COVID-19, in order to maximize the pool of potentially potent antibodies. From this large pool of candidates, Regeneron will select the top two antibodies for a ‘cocktail’ treatment based on potency and binding ability to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, as well as other desirable qualities. Using a multi-antibody approach allows for targeting of different parts of the virus and may help protect against multiple viral variants. Regeneron previously used these technologies to rapidly develop a successful treatment for Ebola virus infection, which is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
In order to meet the pressing public health need, Regeneron is applying its VelociMab® technology to prepare manufacturing-ready cell lines as lead antibodies are selected, so that clinical-scale production can begin immediately. The company is working toward the goal of producing hundreds of thousands of prophylactic doses per month by the end of summer and hopes to have smaller quantities available for initial clinical testing at the beginning of the summer. The company is working with the U.S. Health & Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Defense Authority (BARDA) to increase capacity even further.”
Note to Readers: Regeneron and The Society for Science & the Public has postponed the 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search (originally planned for March 5-11 in Washington, DC) until this summer “out of an abundance of caution regarding COVID-19 and in order to prioritize the health and safety of everyone who attends our events.” (BG)

Next Week:
AS we were preparing this issue, Dr. Shirley Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, announced the suspension of all in-person instruction on the Troy campus, “and movement to online and other alternative learning options”. The decision was made to protect the health and safety of the community from COVID-19. “Now, more than ever, we will pull together and do what Rensselaer does best – collaborate, find solutions, and move forward. I know we are up to the task, and that we will emerge from this stronger than ever as a community. “

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