AbbVie has started a Phase I clinical trial of a fully human SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody, ABBV-47D11, for treating adults hospitalised with Covid-19.

The antibody targets the virus spike protein’s conserved region.

AbbVie licensed the 47D11 programme from clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Harbour BioMed (HBM ) and Utrecht University (UU) in the Netherlands.

In the initial stage, AbbVie will carry out the clinical programme in the US and later expand it into Europe.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will analyse the safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of single ascending doses of ABBV-47D11 in adults hospitalised with Covid-19.

Three different doses of the antibody will be tested on 24 patients across study sites globally.

Study-drug related adverse events will form the trial’s primary endpoints and includes several other secondary outcomes.

Harbour BioMed principal founder, executive director, chairman and CEO Dr Jingsong Wang said: “The rapid progress we have made to date is a credit to the outstanding research by our teams and university partners, the strength of HBM’s fully human antibody discovery platform and AbbVie’s world-leading expertise in antibody and antiviral drug development.

“With the clinical programme at AbbVie now underway, we are in a position to contribute a new therapeutic option to address this pandemic.”

In pre-clinical studies, ABBV-47D11 demonstrated potential against SARS-CoV-2, as well as a related virus, SARS-CoV-1.

Under the licence agreement, HBM and UU will receive a one-time licence fee, payments upon reaching of certain development goal, regulatory and sales-based milestone, as well as tiered royalties on net sales of the antibody.

With the deal, AbbVie gained worldwide rights for development, manufacture, and commercialisation of ABBV-47D11.